It might come as a surprise to some that Houston, Texas surpasses New York City and Los Angeles as home to the most diverse population in the United States, but it certainly isn’t a surprise to Houstonians.  This year marked the 42nd anniversary of an event that only makes sense to be hosted in Houston: iFest, more formally known as the “Houston International Festival.”  Since its birth in 1971, this festival has brought together adults and children from all backgrounds to celebrate and experience the art, music, cuisine, and culture of people from all over the world. iFest 2012 spotlighted Argentina, hence the use of, “bueno,” a word commonly used by Argentinians to mean, “good/awesome.”

 

The Food
iFest takes place throughout City Hall, Sam Houston Park, and Tranquility Park, or nearly 16 acres if you want to get technical.  So you can imagine the number of food choices iFest patrons have the opportunity to try.  This year, iFest attendees could enjoy:

  • Jerk chicken and coconut curry shrimp at Cool Runnings Jamaican food stand,
  • Shaking beef at Sang Sang Fish Sauces’ and Tran Can Cook’s shared stand, and
  • Traditional Vietnamese dishes at Kim Son’s stand.

As if that wasn’t enough to fill your belly, other stands featured Greek, Lebanese, Italian, Argentinian, American, Columbian, Chinese, African, and Caribbean foods (amongst many others).  Then were the food stands of local Houston businesses.  Some of the deliciousness attendees could enjoy were:

  • Cupcakes from Treats From Scratch or Zeapod Cakery,
  • Fancy custard, like the “Cousin Ollie,” from Grandma’s Old Tyme Frozen Custard, and
  • A dry ice fruit drink, known as a Volcano Splash Drink, from How Ya Bean’s.

The Music, Art, and Cultural Performances
Featuring such acts as Los Lonely Boys, War, Steel Pulse, and Galactic, iFest’s musical performers did not disappoint; and naturally, the performers were from all over.  The calming acoustic music of Australian singer/song-writer Travis Caudle, the relaxing tunes of Virginian folk/reggae band SOJA (not gunna lie, I’m listening to them as I write this), and Trinidad-native Sean Richards on the Caribbean Steel Drums were amazing acts not to be missed.  See the full music line-up here.

The arts and crafts stands were located all throughout the festival.  iFest attendees could discover and purchase the art photography of Josh Trefethen, jewelry and key chains literally made of dead insects courtesy of Real Bugs, and dolls, bracelets, and other trinkets of the Inca’s from Inca Wash.

The cultural performances and activities were nothing short of superb.  Tango classes were taught, the belly dancing group, Haraka, performed dances from a variety of cultures, and the fashions of West Africa were paraded down the African and Caribbean Bazaar runway by Kachi Designs’ models.

Other Activities
Of course, the purpose of iFest, according to their site, is to showcase, “educational activities, exhibits and programs onsite… [in an effort]… to inspire the children of today to become global citizens of tomorrow.”  So it’s no surprise that the children’s activities alone make iFest a must for any parent.  There was a kids-only petting zoo (which Vic and David somehow found themselves in… coincidence?), Radio Disney performance, graffiti exhibit where kids were actually encouraged to paint on the walls, and a Mad Science activities area where kids could get their Frankenstein on.  Then there were the cultural activities (see the list here), which gave young ones the opportunity to gain insight into the world of anthropology through shoebox excavations, and make their own traditional Albanian coat of arm’s shield and musical instruments with recycled materials and other crafts.

NBA Nation also attracted quite the attention.  Teenagers and young adults flocked to the attraction to compete in dunk, shooting, and obstacle course contests in the pursuit of prizes.  Throughout the weekend, NBA legends and players Kyle Lowry, Darryl Dawkins, Luis Scola, and Clyde Drexler made appearances; children and adults alike even had the opportunity to meet Darryl Dawkins in person.

For further information on the Houston iFest, check out the following: