BLOOMINGTON - Cultural Festival Weekend is as much about socializing as it is education for some.
"I come out to see people. It's a great gathering," Trudy Garrison said. "I'm seeing people I haven't run into since high school."
Garrison, of Bloomington, had her daughter, Kyra, 1, and son Ishmael, 4 months, with her. She said with all the terrorism and violence in the world, she is glad to see an event that brings people together.
"Just because we're all different colors doesn't mean we can't be cool," she said. "There are different religions and cultures and colors, so what? We're all just people."
Twenty-seven years ago the founders of Cultural Festival Weekend put the event together to celebrate diversity and introduce people to the variety of cultures in Central Illinois.
"The demographics of the area are still changing," said board member Marcia Thompkins. "So that need - to educate people about different cultures- has not changed."
Between 15,000 and 18,000 people were expected to attend the three day festival at Miller Park and the area around the stage was filling up quickly Saturday afternoon in anticipation of the talent show, Thomkins said.
In addition to musical acts, kid's games and festival food, a child safety belt check was Saturday morning and a health fair was set up all day in the Miller Park Pavilion to provide screenings, information and services, she said.
Lenoix and Traversa Campbell, of Bloomington said they enjoy meeting new people. Their five-year-old twin boys, Tre' Veon and La' Vareon had just gotten their faces painted and were headed for the jump house.
"The children's activities are great," Traversa Campbell said. "And now that the kids are older, we can bring them with us."
Lenoix Campbell said the festival is a great opportunity to experience other cultures.
"It's interesting to see and mingle and understand different nationalities, religions and cultures," said Traversa Campbell. "…to meet new people who may have moved into the community and reunite with old friends."
The Cultural Festival Weekend wraps up today with a gospel showcase from 2 to 6 p.m.