When the first-ever Northern Kentucky International Festival takes place on March 14 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, it will be the product of a lot of hard work and collaboration that took place across the region.

Inspired by Boone County Schools’ own international celebration and the international advocacy at the heart of Rotary International chapters in Florence, Covington and Kenton County, the festival will offer a Saturday full of global cuisine, entertainment, art and fellowship. Food vendors include local favorites like Sake Bomb Sushi and Korean BBQ and La Mexicana, while booths from Ten Thousand Villages and The Ed Colina Foundation, to name a couple, will be selling arts, crafts and other items. Groups from Sakura Ladies Chorus, Cincinnati-Dayton Taiko and Cincinnati Baila! Dance Academy will be holding performances of international dance and music throughout the day.

Debby Shipp, NKY Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of business growth and international trade, says the festival’s goals align well with the chamber’s mission “to promote and support the development of strong businesses and a vibrant economy in the Northern Kentucky region through leadership and advocacy, resulting in better quality of life for all.”

“And we mean ‘for all,’” she adds.

The vibrant and diverse international community in Northern Kentucky often gets overlooked, says Jamie Glavic from Scooter Media, which is helping publicize the event free of charge to the NKY Chamber.

“What we’re really wanting to do is bring the community together to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the international community that’s right here in Northern Kentucky,” Glavic says.

The Rotary clubs of Florence, Covington and Kenton County have played a crucial role in organizing the first Northern Kentucky International Festival, with the hope that it becomes an annual tradition in the area.

“Northern Kentucky is really growing rapidly and we are trying to attract talent from around the world, we’re trying to attract businesses from around the world,” says Darren Wurz, former president of the Covington Rotary Club and one of the lead organizers of the festival. “It seemed like a great opportunity for Rotary to not just do an event and raise money but also to get involved in the community and do something that would really bring our community together, help build community and tie us into the business world.”

Proceeds from the Northern Kentucky International Festival will fund local Rotary causes like the Covington Rotary International Youth Exchange Program—which sends two economically disadvantaged students each year to countries such as France and Brazil to study abroad—and the Uganda Water Project, a favored cause of Rotary International.

Matt Grimes, owner of local landmark restaurant Colonial Cottage and former president of the Rotary Club of Kenton County, is overseeing the recruitment of restaurants specializing in global cuisine while Andrew Kearns, the Kenton County Rotary’s current president, has handled getting sponsorships and participation from Duke Energy, Thomas More University, Gateway Community and Technical College and other prominent organizations.

The Northern Kentucky International Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 14 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. Admission is free to the public and no advance registration is required to attend.