August 29 - Manchester
Manchester's earliest roots go back to Native American settlers who found their home around the fishing mecca of Amoskeag Falls. Years after the Namaoskeag Indians had left the area, Scot-Irish families arrived to make the land their own. Settlers from all over the world continued to gravitate to the metro area of the Granite State. Now a city with nearly 16,000 immigrants, Manchester gained its multiculturalism by way of French/Canadian, Scotch/Irish and Vietnamese peoples, and continues to expand as a cultural hub as newcomers from countries including Sudan, Somalia and Bosnia find refuge and new beginnings in the Queen City.
To celebrate diversity in such a city, Manchester Consolidated Services, Inc organized an International Festival that was held for years until 1990. Seventeen years later, Terri DeLangis, Lillye Ramos-Spooner and New Hampshire Magazine's 2007 It List members Nabil Migalli and Marie Metoyer joined forces to restore the city's interest in multiculturalism. The result? The rebirth of a festival, a celebration of the heritage, cultures and global diversity of Manchester - People Fest.
People Fest is an opportunity for Manchester-area dwellers to find commonalities between themselves and their neighbors. "As residents of Manchester," said Migalli, "we live next to each other, we meet at work, at coffeehouses, at the supermarket ... but we rarely have a chance to get together with no agenda." That's the point of People Fest - to carve out time for the busy city to reconnect with its heritage and show newcomers what it's like to live in the Granite State.
Now in its third year, People Fest, held in partnership with Art in the Park, serves to educate and celebrate. Exhibits, performances and the chance to mingle with new people have drawn more than a thousand people to the festival. And, of course, since a love of food and drink are common to all people, People Fest commemorates rich cultural history through good eats.
This article appears in the August 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine