Liberty County’s diversity was celebrated Saturday during the annual Small World Festival at Bryant Commons. The large, free outdoor festival celebrates cultures from around the world.
“As a military community we have just an incredible amount of diversity,” Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Michelle Ricketson said. The HDDA organizes the event each year.
According to Ricketson, the event began at a local school about 20 years ago, progressed to a larger event in the downtown area and about five years ago the festival found a home at Bryant Commons.
“In the 2010 national census there were 38 nationalities represented (locally) in that census, and so we want to celebrate that diversity,” she said.
Ricketson estimated this year’s event drew about 1,800 people.
Local groups, such as the Hispanic Heritage Club, shared traditional dances, one of which was a colorful Puerto Rican plantation dance. Another duo performed an Argentine tango. A children’s choir sang a traditional African song. Various Asian and Pacific Island cultural groups also shared their customs through music and dance. A 5K Run/Walk with Liberty County Proud and Healthy was held at Bryant Commons that morning.
A patriotic field of flags installed by the pond at Bryant Commons rippled in the breeze. Car enthusiasts wandered through the International Car Show, where classic cars from speedy corvettes to solid Ford pick-up trucks were on display. Dunkin Donuts helped support that event.
This year was the first for the Hinesville Jazz & Music Festival, which featured jazz musicians from across Georgia and the Southeast. Musicians performed later Saturday afternoon.
The Liberty Melting Pot of Art showcased local artwork and crafts vendors displayed jewelry, wood-worked items and paintings. The food court sold authentic foods from different cultures, such as frozen Hawaiian fruit drinks, and standard festival fare. According to Ricketson, there was a total of about 30 vendors who participated in the Small World Festival this year.
The Vietnam Veterans of America, Liberty Chapter 789, held a raffle to raise funds for the Veterans Memorial Walk at Bryant Commons.
Local elected officials, including District 2 Hinesville Council Member Jason Floyd, greeted residents. Candidate for the District 5 Hinesville council seat, Andrew Smith Sr., showed up with his horse, Cisco, to campaign.
The 2019 Small World Festival was sponsored by the HDDA, the City of Hinesville, Weekend Sessions, Dee’s Electric, GeoVista Credit Union, McDonald’s and The Heritage Bank.