Plano International Festival set for Saturday

Thousands of people are expected to descend upon downtown Plano Saturday to celebrate cultures from around the world.

Plano International FestivalFrom Star News

The ninth annual Plano International Festival will feature food and entertainment from more than 100 different cultures, said Graciela Katzer, International Festival president. With 16,000 attendees in 2012, Katzer said she hopes at least 18,000 will attend this year.

Featured entertainment includes Chinese dancing from Lisha’s Dance Studio, as well as folk songs from the Swedish Women’s Educational Association and a martial arts demonstration from the Black Belt Academy. In all, there are nearly 20 performances, ensuring there is something for everyone.

“The children’s area is one of our largest areas and all activities there are free and educational,” Katzer said. “We give each child a passport to the world so they have to go to different booths where they can learn about geography and find out about the capital, continent and language spoken in each country.”

In addition, a naturalization ceremony will take place at the festival, allowing festival goers to welcome America’s newest citizens. Prior to the ceremony, Mayor Harry LaRosiliere will give a keynote address, sharing his story with the soon-to-be naturalized citizens.

“I was born in Haiti and my family moved to New York when I was 3 years old,” LaRosiliere said. “As a first-generation immigrant, my sister and I serve as the American branch of our family. Growing up in America, I became naturalized as soon as I turned 18.”
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LaRosiliere said he wants to let new Americans know they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.

“My family didn’t have much money in Haiti; the United States represented the land of opportunity and allowed my sister and I to get an education and be the first college graduates in our family,” he said. “We have been able to uplift our families because of the opportunities available to us. My mother cleaned office buildings and my father worked in a factory and drove a cab on weekends to put us through school. We learned that by putting in hard work and applying ourselves we could be successful.”

The festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Haggard Park in downtown Plano. For information, visit