Most festivals that celebrate world cultures focus solely on what’s outside the United States. The SacWorldFest, with its family-friendly celebration Sunday at Sacramento State, takes a slightly different tack.
One of the biggest draws at the festival, now in its seventh year, is its hip-hop dance competition.
“So many of these world music and dance festivals forget about the USA,” said event director Brett Freeman. “They forget about all the fusions that we have here that really impact the whole world.”
The competition, set for 4 p.m. Sunday, was introduced four years ago as a way to get more youths involved with the event, which showcases cultural diversity in the Sacramento region through music and dance. Winners of the competition are chosen by crowd response.
“It’s arguably the most popular segment of the entire festival,” Freeman said. “Many years we’ve had a couple thousand people in front of that stage.”
Sunday’s free celebration is part of SacWorldFest’s nine days of master classes and other activities that kicked off Sept. 27 and continue through Monday.
Previously a two-day event held in Old Sacramento, SacWorldFest’s expansion has been due in part to a new partnership with Sacramento State.
Connecting the SacWorldFest to an institution of higher learning has been one of the primary missions for event organizers since its creation, Freeman said.
The event helps students and others to move past mere acceptance of other cultures, instilling instead an appreciation and gratitude “for one another’s positive expressions,” he said.
“There’s very few opportunities for all of these types of expression to be gathered in one location,” Freeman said. “That’s what (SacWorldFest) was designed to do. It’s to bring us all together in one area so we can share smiles together and share our talents with each other.”
Nearly a dozen master classes have been taught on campus since the start of the festival. Each course spotlights a specific style of dance or music, with Monday’s final class focusing on jazz improvisation.
On Sunday, SacWorldFest’s main stage will host performances from musicians and entertainers from both inside and beyond America’s borders.
Acts include Brazilian seven-piece SambaDa, known for its energizing blend of funk and reggae. Indian jazz guitarist Todd Mosby – who will teach the final master class at California State University, Sacramento – is also slated to take the stage.
Ukrainian dance, traditional Mexican music, Albanian juggling and old-time Americana are also in the program.
Adjacent to the main stage will be the Global Village, offering family-friendly activities and demonstrations that invite interaction with different cultures. The event also includes “Around the World” cooking demonstrations, storytelling and theater performances.
Visitors will be issued a “passport” upon entry that they can get stamped at completion of each activity. Once the passport is filled, children can swap it for a prize at the end.