(Lawton, OK) The lnternational Festival, a three day event will open 5pm on Friday, September 27. At 5:45pm, the Parade of Nations kicks off the Opening Ceremonies on the South Stage (2nd Street).

There is no attendance fee or parking fee, not even for the stages! Literally, to attend, it is "a walk in the park". We are excited to announce that we will again host a Naturalization Ceremony where residents representing different countries will take the Oath of Allegiance to be sworn in as US Citizens.

The festival hours are Friday 5 to 10pm, Saturday 11am to 10pm, and Sunday I2 Noon to 5pm.

Since the lnternational Festival made the move to Elmer Thomas Park in 2008, patrons and vendors have enjoyed the layout, expanded space and amenities, and the large parking area adjacent to the festival grounds.

This year you can expect to see an expanded children's area with free games and activities; a larger area for the food vendors and enhanced parking/traffic controls. Also, “Free Park & Ride Shuttle Service” will be available from the McMahon Memorial Auditorium, 801 NW Ferris Avenue to the festival site and back.

Shuttle service hours are Friday, 5:30pm to 10:30pm; Saturday, 10:30am to 10:30pm and Sunday, 11:30am to 5:30pm.

The lnternational Festival began in 1979 as an "Ethnic Exposition" and was created out of a desire to promote greater awareness and appreciation of Lawton's diverse heritage, sponsored by the Lawton Public Library with assistance from the City of Lawton and community volunteers.

In 1982, the event's name was officially changed to the "lnternational Festival" and over the years has grown into a three-day event averaging 39,000 to 40,000 in attendance.

The festival provides local ethnic organizations and other groups and individuals an opportunity to display aspects of their culture that makes the Lawton-Ft. Sill community so unique, while developing community spirit and participation through involvement of local residents, civic organizations, businesses and schools.

The festival is a family oriented event full of fun, food, children's games and activities, sales and display vendors, and nonstop multi-cultural entertainment. The International Festival is pleased to present for their first appearance at the festival, the Cameron University Pan Express, Caribbean Steel Drum Ensemble who will open the festival on Saturday at 11am on the 2nd Street Stage (South).

The "lnteractive Area" in the Garden Pavilion will have performers and feature cultural demonstrations. Saturday there will be Yoga with Cynthia Sosa and Friends, Salsa 101 with Angela Kempe, Suminagashi (Japanese marbling) and more!

On Sunday from 1-4pm, the Mexican Folkloric Dancers will host a kite flight (free kites, limited quantities) and teach patrons to make Piñatas, Cascarones (confetti eggs), and Ojos de Dios (God’s Eye).

The two main stages, the 2nd Street Stage (located east of the Holiday House) and the Lake Helen Amphitheatre Stage (Note: new location east of Play Ground in the Park) will feature non-stop entertainment.

Headliners to perform Friday are the Arbuckle Xpress Band, high energy country/rock and Son del Barrio, Latin music. Saturday night at 8pm, Big Mike Griffin returns to Lawton for blues concert on the 2nd Street Stage.

New this year for the Lake Helen Amphitheatre Stage on Saturday night at 8pm is a community “International Street Dance” where a DJ will provide music from around the world! David Wonders returns to walk the festival grounds captivating everyone of all ages with balloon art and comedy street magic adding to the fun!

Story From City of Lawton Arts and Humanities Division