MADISON, Wis. – To add some pep to this weekend, climb into the car and drive north for a cultural experience that doesn't need a passport.
The 2013 International Festival will start at noon Sunday at the Overture Center for the Arts. It's filled with activities from performances and crafts to an international cafe.
Located in the Overture hall lobby level 1, the international cafe provides a number of choices for a food adventure. Olive salad, gelato, and Italian desserts; Jamaican jerk pork with red beans and rice; an Indian sampler platter; Nepali style dumplings; and many American favorites, including chocolate chip cookies.
Shoppers may just swoon at the craft bazaar – there's so much to see. There will be goods such as African straw baskets, ceramics from Palestine, and items from Poland, Russia, Nepal, Ecuador, Tibet, Peru, Guatemala, Uganda, Puerto Rico, India, Philippines, Mexico, El Salvador, and Lithuania.
The highlight of the festival has got to be the music. A succession of artists will fill the air with song and dance in six locations. The first performers are a duet of Swiss alphorns in the lobby – a short 5-minute performance before the opening ceremony at 12:05 p.m.
From then on, visitors can pick their favorite style of music or check out something completely new. Here's a sample of what's to be found: Cajun, South Texan and Mexican, Irish, Caribbean, Brazilian, African, Chinese, German, Canadian, Indian, Ukrainian, Taiwanese, Yiddish, Bulgarian, and even American folk music.
Other activities are worth looking into as well. Hands-on fun for children can be found in the third floor in the Overture hall lobby. There will be games and other fun courtesy of the Madison Children's Museum.
The Playhouse Gallery on the lower level will feature an exhibition celebrating Sister Cities. Madison has six: Camaguey, Cuba; Arcatao, El Salvador; Freiburg, Germany; Montova, Italy; Obihiro, Japan; and Vilnius, Italy. Photographs and artwork will be displayed.
It would be difficult not to feel as if a few miles' drive has really been around the world.
Can't make it to the festival? Another option would be to arrange a tour of the center at a quieter time. Tours cost $4 to $5 and are scheduled in advance. Call 608-258-4177 for more information.