By Ryan O'Connell
Members of the Afro Caribbean Dance Group (ACDG) hosted their third annual Culture Fest last weekend, Nov. 6.
Having taken place in the Dwight Performing Arts Center, the event was a celebration of different heritages. The performance consisted of several dance numbers from the ACDG, a battle of the DJs, and a list of guest artists to perform live.
The Culture Fest attractions didn’t end there however, as they also called onto the audience for participation in helping to vote for the Mr. and Mrs. contest, and a best-dressed competition open to anyone interested in participating.
The Mr. and Mrs. contest consisted of four representatives, being Ms. Cape Verde, Mr. Liberia, Ms. Bermuda, and Mr. Haiti, played by students, and even one – Mr. Haiti – played by a guest artist at the event.
Each contestant was asked two short questions, including what their culture meant to them, and what their country’s “biggest flex” was.
Ms. Cape Verde, the first representative of the night, spoke about how her culture built who she was today, and that it’s influenced every accomplishment she’s made.
“My culture means everything to me because it helped build me into the person that I am today,” she said. “I carry myself with a lot of morals and integrity and I can accredit that to my culture.”
The representative of Cape Verde said her country’s biggest flex was the “various different shapes, colors, and sizes, and that any single place we go you feel our presence on many different levels.”
The next speaker, Mr. Liberia, talked about the passion his country held and the respect he had for the place he grew up.
“It’s where I was born, it’s where I was raised, so it’s something I hold dearly. They have a lot of heart and a lot of passion in their business.” He said, before adding that his country’s biggest flex was “their women.”
Ms. Bermuda talked about the small island nation being a tight community of respect and beauty, and, of course, flexing the gorgeous beaches.
“We offer each other with respect, we treat each other as if we’re all family even though we aren’t all related.”
Finally, Mr. Haiti said he valued the freedom in his community, and how it helped him appreciate what his parents did to raise him, and the place he grew up.
“We used to do what we wanted to do, that can really make you or break you,” he said. “It means a lot to me. My parents raised me ... no matter how people try to talk bad about places.”
Before the event, Sara Gallegos, the director of student involvement, shared an overview of what would be performed that night, and what a successful evening would look like for her.
“You know, it’s the students’ event. I hope that they get a good turnout, that they have fun, but it’s what they want it to be. That would be success for me.”
Gallegos outlined the event, highlighting some of the biggest aspects of Culture Fest by mentioning the dance group, the competition between DJs, and the crowning of Mr. and Mrs. Culture Fest.
McKenzie Ward, president of the student government association, shared some insight on how organizations like the SGA can help groups such as the ACDG to hold events like this one.
“Funding helps student organizations be able to help engage the Framingham State Community,” she said. “These events may also help recruit new members into these organizations.”
Ward said that SGA helps these groups through co-partnerships, and that the funding can be used on an event like Culture Fest, or training for the group.
When asked whether she thought this financial help was important for student groups, she added that it “definitely does,” because it can allow smaller organizations to host larger events in a similar way to how ACDG did this past weekend with Culture Fest.
Ward also said that groups that are looking to receive funding from the SGA can go through the finance committee to request an allocated budget, or can contact the SGA directly through email to ask for a co-partnership.
Groups looking for co-partnership might also need to present what they are asking directly to the senate for closer review of their requests. She said that any group looking to be given any piece of the ‘big budget’ needs to meet with the finance committee in order to be considered when it is drafted in February.
The evening concluded with a raffle, which included prizes such as a discount for a manicure, half off hair styling by a member of the dance team, and a TV, which was donated by FSAB.
Curtis Howell, a freshman, said that he had fun at the event, and while he didn’t participate on stage, he enjoyed being there.
Curtis said this was his first time attending one of these events, and when asked if he would go to another one, responded “hell yeah.”
[Editor’s Note: McKenzie Ward is Opinions Editor for The Gatepost.]