International Friendship Day invites celebration of heritage

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Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 4:27 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - For years people from all over have gathered for Fairbanks International Friendship Day to celebrate the various people and cultures that make up our community. Saturday, October 21 marked the thirty-seventh annual event at the Pioneer Park Civic Center.

“You know, I was surprised when I was told that in Fairbanks there are more than 40 languages spoken in our community,” Roslind Kan commented. Kan has been involved with Friendship Day from the very beginning and is currently a main organizer. “I do think people find this very interesting to find out. It’s important to us because Fairbanks is our home. It’s an event for us, for Fairbanks people, and it’s a day set aside to enjoy our differences and share our differences.”

It all began as a small-scale event, but the occasion became more and more popular. In 2016 the Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor, along with the mayors of the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, issued a proclamation to endorse International Friendship Day.

Though unfortunately Covid-19 put a temporary halt to the yearly festivities, during 2020, 2021, and 2022, organizers were eager to resume.

“This year, 2023, we are going back to the full-scale event,” Kan explained. “We have like 15 cultural display booths upstairs, and I’d like to bring back all the people who used to come to the event.”

International Friendship Day prides itself on being an educational experience for everyone who attends, even the organizers.

“Sometimes we don’t even know we have all these different and diverse cultural people living here, and it’s really an exciting event,” Kan said.

This year’s event featured a variety of cultural cuisines as well as dances from around the world.