More than a quarter century ago, a group of dance directors and team chaperones started dreaming of an international dance festival to be held in America. This group of adults had accompanied a folk dance team from Rexburg’s Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) on a European dance festival tour where they saw firsthand the excitement, enthusiasm and talent that emanated from the variety of performers. Now that dream has grown into an award-winning extravaganza.
From its first performance in 1986 to its present-day traveling show, the programs draw both participants and audiences from around the globe. Entertainers flocking to the valley come from such far-flung places as Belgium, China, France, India, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Mexico, Peru and South Korea (not to mention a healthy showing of performers from the United States and Canada).
You can expect to see 300-plus dancers perform in a variety of settings from the opening ceremonies through the parade and into the street festival. It doesn’t matter where they happen to be; it is not unusual to see and hear dancing, singing and laughter filling the air.
Year by year, the International Folk Dance Festival becomes more and more popular. The event has received a plethora of recognitions including a Governor’s award as well as ranking as one of the top 100 events in North America by the American Bus Association.
In addition, teams consistently vote the festival the best they have ever attended. Much of this, they admit, is due to the friendliness and welcoming of the host families as well as the Idaho communities.
For ticket information, contact the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce at 208-356-5700 or 888-IINFO-880. After witnessing all the fun that can be experienced during the festival, visitors will more than likely want to extend their stay in Rexburg and the surrounding area. To find out more thinks to do, visit the chamber’s web site at www.rexcc.com.
Hosting Has Its Privileges
There’s no better way to experience the fun and excitement of the International Folk Dance Festival than becoming a host family for entertainers from around the world. From the moment the dancers step off their bus, host families are there to greet them and share in the many aspects of their stay in the United States.
Over the eight days they are in Idaho, hosts have the chance to play, eat with and in general get to know their visitors. Their visitors, in turn, do the same.
Host families receive a variety of perks for volunteering their homes and their time. They are also given free tickets to the performances so they can support their dancers and discounts on food and services throughout the community during their participation.
But don’t think physical rewards are the only reason to become a host family. Families experience new culture, learn about another part of the world and learn to show tolerance over world issues.
Be aware, though, there is one downfall to becoming a host family. Tears may flow and hearts have the possibility of breaking just a little when the dancers leave to travel back to their home countries.
Hosts shouldn’t let this little aspect deter them. To become a host family, log on to www.rexcc.com and fill out the form for becoming a host family or call the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce at 208-356-5700 to sign up.