Columbus, IN — Japan will be celebrated this year as the host country of the 38th annual Ethnic Expo presented by First Financial Bank in downtown Columbus. The two-day festival, which fosters understanding and an appreciation of Columbus’ diverse population, will take place on October 13th-14th outside Columbus City Hall.

Japan is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea, the Philippine Sea, and Taiwan in the south.

“It was a natural choice for Japan to lead Ethnic Expo as host country this year when reviewing our host country applications,” stated Jody Coffman, Communications and Events Coordinator and Ethnic Expo Coordinator for the City of Columbus. Earlier in the spring of 2023, a delegation led by Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, spent a week in Japan, visiting locations such as Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagoya, and Miyoshi, which has been Columbus’ sister city for nearly 30 years.

The Columbus Japanese Business Association — a Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization member association — will represent Japan at this year’s Ethnic Expo. As host country, the food and culture of Japan will be featured in the Host Country Corner of the festival village and will be celebrated with lively entertainment on the main stage. The City Hall plaza acts as the main stage for Ethnic Expo. The performances and activities will be family-friendly and feature acts from all over the world. Headlining Ethnic Expo on Friday, October 13, starting at 8:30 pm, is Spirit Bomb. Spirit Bomb is an explosive anime tribute band making waves across the nation. For more information, visit them at

Headlining the Main Stage on Saturday, October 14, starting at 8:30 pm, is Brett Wiscons and the Benders. Wiscons is an Indiana-based singer, songwriter, and five-time author and has had the honor of sharing the stage with a vast array of international and national touring acts, including Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band, Katy Perry, Collective Soul, LeAnn Rimes, Tesla, Rick Springfield, 311, Tonic, Lifehouse, BoDeans, Trace Adkins, Hootie & the Blowfish, Sister Hazel, and Will Hoge, among others. He most recently returned from the Beach Boys Good Vibrations Cruise featuring acts that included The Beach Boys, Temptations, Isley Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, John Stamos, and Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray among many others. For more on Wiscons, visit

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. About 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 the presenting sponsor First Financial, and other sponsors including Coca-Cola, ERMCO Electric, Negangard Tent and Party Rental, Ryan Furr Creative, Service My Restaurant, The Taylor, TD Advertising, and George Utz, Inc. Activities are made possible in part by the Columbus Area Arts Council and the Indiana Arts Commission, which receives support from the State of Indiana and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Please join the City of Columbus in celebrating our bountiful cultures and heritages from around the world. Congratulations to Japan for serving as this year’s host country. We look forward to experiencing their customs and traditions in the host country corner,” said Mayor Jim Lienhoop.

For more information regarding Ethnic Expo activities or how you can be involved, please visit or contact Jody Coffman, Communications and Events Coordinator, at (812) 669-5302.