France will make its debut as the Host Country of the 35th annual Ethnic Expo, presented by First Financial Bank on Oct. 12-13 in downtown Columbus. The two-day festival, which fosters understanding and an appreciation of Columbus’s diverse population, will take place outside Columbus City Hall from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both days. The festival is family-friendly and features live performances of international music and dancing, ethnic art, craft demonstrations, and authentic cuisine and goods.
Columbus Indiana Accueil will be the leading group to represent France along with Faurecia. As Host Country, the cultures and foods of France will be featured in the main booth of the festival village and will be celebrated in the Ethnic Expo Parade.
“We are proud to be a French based company and look forward to being a special part of Ethnic Expo this year,” said Tobi Herron, Community and Employee Involvement Director for Faurecia Clean Mobility in North America. “In particular, our French employees are thrilled to work alongside other local French residents to share their culture with the community.”
The French had significant influence on Indiana in the late 1660s when French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle led a series of trips into the Mississippi and Ohio Valley. The expeditions, later known as the La Salle expeditions, led to the establishment of an overland trade route connecting French colonies in Canada with French colonies in Louisiana. Many areas of Indiana were influenced by the cultural interactions among the people, but there were a few noteworthy French fort settlements in Indiana: Miami (present day Fort Wayne), Ouiatenon (present day West Lafayette), and Vincennes (present day Vincennes).
Ethnic Expo annually celebrates the traditions and customs of more than 30 countries with native residents who live in Columbus. The festival was founded in 1984 by a committee spearheaded by then-Mayor Bob Stewart’s wife, Barbara, to feature the city’s diverse ethnic heritage and to make the celebration a tool for understanding different cultures and customs. Approximately 35,000 people attend Ethnic Expo every year.
Ethnic Expo is organized by the City of Columbus and is made possible by generous donations from First Financial Bank, the presenting sponsor for the ninth year in a row, and other sponsors including Coca-Cola, Vectren Foundation, ERMCO Electric, and Milestone Contractors. This activity is also made possible, in part, with support from the Indiana Arts Commission, the Columbus Area Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
“First Financial is proud to be a part of the Columbus community. We are honored to participate again in the annual Ethnic Expo, which focuses on gathering together to showcase our hometown’s diverse culture and heritage,” said Al Roszczyk, Regional President for First Financial Bank. “First Financial is proud to be the title sponsor for the ninth year and our team looks forward to celebrating with the community this October.”
“Please join the City of Columbus in celebrating our bountiful cultures and heritages from around the world. Congratulations to France for serving as this year’s Host Country. The City of Columbus is honored to work alongside our French community and we look forward to experiencing their customs and traditions,” said Mayor Jim Lienhoop.
For more information regarding Ethnic Expo activities or how you can be involved, please visit www.ethnicexpo.org or contact Katherine Schwenk, Community Development Project Specialist for the City of Columbus, at (812) 376-2520.