072413 originally 80213 Festival Marking 12 years of Celebrating Cultural Diversity (357) w/2 col Balla Kouyate)

LACONIA — The Laconia Multicultural Festival (LMF), the biggest one-day event of the year in Laconia, received a "New Hampshire Magazine's Best of NH Multicultural Celebration for 2012" award.

Held in Rotary Riverside Park and downtown Laconia, the festival has a new date this year, Saturday, August 3.

Balla Kouyaté, one of the greatest balafon players in the world today, will bring the sounds of Afro Pop with his dancers. This virtuoso plays two balafons with astounding speed, moving effortlessly between two instruments. The balafon is a West African ancestor of the marimba and xylophone. The first balafon Sosso Bala was in possession of the great king Sumanguru Kantéin 1200s. Balla's father is guardian of the ancient instrument which in 2001 was recognized by UNESCO as one of the 19 Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The Laconia Historical Indian Association (L.I.H.A.) will join our vendors this year bringing their arts and crafts. The organization is committed to promoting, preserving and sharing knowledge of Native American culture and traditions.

The Iraqi artists, Saad Hindal & Al Hassan Hindal, well-known in New Hampshire for their paintings depicting their life and flight from Bagdad in 2003, return once again with their artwork. Eastern Dragon, a local group and a festival favorite, return with exciting demonstrations of karate and self- defense.

The day is filled with ethnic foods, arts, crafts, exhibits, demonstrations, activities for children, education, and, of course, with music, singing, dancing, and drumming. Those food and craft vendors and social service organizations that have not registered yet can call Mary Jane Hoey, Craft and Food Vendors Chair, at 524-1782, or Kathy James, Social Services Organizations Chair, at 524-1100 x 148; or go to the LMF website.
A festival innovation this year will be a shuttle bus providing free transportation to and from many downtown parking lots. The bus will make a continuous loop around from Beacon Street East to the Laconia Clinic and Beacon Street West areas. The bus is sponsored by LRGH and the continuous loops will start at 9:30 a.m.

The Festival is sponsored by the Laconia Human Relations Committee, the Historic Belknap Mill, and Laconia Main Street.



Balla Kouyaté (Courtesy photo)