Community Spotlight: Alton, Illinois Hosts Small Town - Big World Event

May 17, 2019 | Community Spotlight: Alton, Illinois Hosts 'Small Town — Big World’ Event
Maevas_Coffee_STBW.jpgMaeva's Coffee Shop offered a variety of Argentinian street food and an authentic brunch experience complimented by dancing from the Colombian Folkloric Group. Photo credit: Alton Main Street 

On Saturday, May 4th, Alton Main Street presented its third annual cultural celebration called “Small Town – Big World.” The day showcased a variety of activities which represented their wonderfully diverse community in many establishments across downtown. The event is a homegrown effort with members of the public contributing elements of ethnic cuisine, traditional clothing, world music, folk art, dance performances, martial arts, sports, and information from faith communities.

Native American culture was represented at It's Raining Zen, and the Red Cedar Circle of SW Illinois led singing, drumming and storytelling complete with a tipi and painted horse. Photo credit: Alton Main Street

A passport directed attendees on this self-guided exploration, and many community members contributed elements to the celebration. Cultural activities included: learning about Alton's rich African American history, Muslim and Jewish traditions, Brazilian martial arts, traditional dancing and clothing from the Philippines, German specialty food and beverages, Native American drumming and storytelling, Hispanic and ancient Mayan clothing, cuisine and folk art, and much more.

At River Bend Yoga, guests witnessed Classical Indian Dance and wedding attire from different states of India. Photo credit: Alton Main Street

“This was a very exciting day for Alton to demonstrate that we are an inclusive community where people embrace and celebrate what makes each of us unique,” said Sara McGibany, Executive Director of Alton Main Street. "Alton Main Street is thrilled to be able to provide the framework to bring everyone together.”

At the YWCA of Alton, attendees sampled traditional Jewish food, had their name written in Hebrew, and learned how to play with a dreidel. Photo credit: Alton Main Street

Local businesses agreed to host a nation or region of the world inside their establishment as part of the occasion. Some venues had an inherent connection, such as Little Mexico and Germania Brew Haus, which celebrated the heritage of the business owners, while others simply made their location available for community members to share customs or performances from their cultures.

Submitted by Alton Main Street