Experience a taste of “the emerald of the equator” at the largest Indonesian Festival in northern New England. The sixth annual celebration will take over Somersworth Middle School Saturday Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in a region that hosts the largest Indonesian population in northern New England. The theme for this year’s celebration will be “bigger, better and bolder.”
Live demonstrations will be performed by a variety of local cultural entertainers highlighted at the center of the fair, while Batik and Indonesian weaving workshops and dozens of food vendors will also be featured in the festivities this year. Performances will include traditional dancers, musical instruments and theatrics.
“One of the highlights that we have coming in is the Berklee Indo Community, which is a music group of students that go to Berklee in Boston and are performing a lot of Indonesian traditional songs and a more modern type of music,” said Raude Raychel, president of the ICC (Indonesian Community Connect, Inc.). “We also have a group coming in from Philadelphia and they do a lot of traditional dances. This event is to present anything that has to do with Indonesia and we want to showcase the different traditions from the different islands of Indonesia.”
Food vendors will be cooking regional delicacies such as chicken satay and rendang, which Raychel says is always the big highlight of the annual festival. Every year the ICC scours New England in search of the newest and most popular traditional Indonesian food vendors to bring to the festival.
“We are trying to bring different highlights and different performers, different dances showcasing the different islands — but the No. 1 reason people come is for the food so we always try and get the new vendors that everyone loves,” said Raychel.
Local expert weavers will demonstrate the proper techniques of traditional weaving styles of the various Indonesian islands in hands-on demonstrations, and performers will be putting on interactive song and dance lessons throughout the length of the event.
“All of the little things just add to it, the performers are new every year, it’s always different. New interactive themes and dances and just highlighting different cultures from all of the different islands of Indonesia,” said Raychel.
A raffle will be held with the winner taking home a free trip to the islands of Indonesia. Raychel says, however, that she is the most excited about the opportunity to educate the public on a culture that means so much to her, and the ability to do so with the help of volunteers driven by nothing more than good will makes it all the more worth it.
“It’s really just people with the heart and passion who really just want to do it and help us celebrate so when the festival is packed like it was last year and seeing everyone enjoying all of the little things going on and seeing the non-Indonesian people that are there and learning about the culture, it’s really rewarding,” she said.
The event is free and open to the public where everyone is welcome to attend and learn more about a culture that is so abundant around the surrounding towns.
“We want to teach the public about Indonesia because the Indonesian population is so high in New Hampshire,” said Raychel. “From my perspective, if I had a lot of Indonesian friends that live around here then I would want to know what Indonesia is all about, so we feel like there is a need for an event like this and … bringing these communities together in celebration.”
— Andrew Clay