“It is quite remarkable to reflect back on the origins of Irmo's International Festival. An idea here, a vision there, and the vision of a festival celebrating the vibrant diversity of Irmo became a reality.
The initial vision for the festival came over breakfast, as several members of the community met with Mayor Hardy King, building on the positive momentum generated through various public square dialogues on diversity. ‘It takes a village’, or so they say, and in our case ‘it took a town.’ Key partners and stakeholders, including school representatives, faith groups, artists, businesses, and town residents, came together to create the first festival April 28, 2019. On a shoestring budget, and overwhelming enthusiasm from the community, the first sprinkling of the community Rangoli art display, designed by tour de force artist, Khaldoune Bencheikh, marked a week long journey to the weekend festival. Members of the community gathered at the Irmo Community Park each weeknight evening to add to the artwork, which would be a signature feature of the first festival. On the day of the festival itself, artists, vendors, entertainers, and festival goers were treated to a diverse array of international food, culture, poetry, art and entertainment, and a good time was had by all. Local school kids from K-12th grade received prizes for their award winning poetry and artwork, showcased in a transformed picnic shelter ‘gallery’. When we eventually packed up our final wares that evening, we left the park, leaving nothing behind, except the Rangoli, which served as a fingerprint of a magnificent day.”