People interested in India’s rich culture can experience the country’s food, music and clothing first-hand at the 30th Annual India Fest on Saturday.
“It’s a great day to experience Indian culture,” said Rajiv Varshney, chair of the India Association of Fort Myers Board of Trustees. “It’s just a unique situation. You’ll be able to see traditional Indian dance, costumes, food and can even take a memento home.”
Previously hosted in Fort Myers, the festival has moved to the Estero Recreation Center, at 9200 Corkscrew Road, this year for the first time.
“We have about 3,000 people who come to the festival,” Varshney said. “Finding a venue that has the right amount of space and parking is important. It’s the best route for us.”
Reaching out to thousands of people can seem difficult for an organization of about 120 families, but the association is close-knit and thriving, said Gopal Panday, the group’s president.
“Basically, with our environment, it’s more relevant for us to reach out on a much larger scale than what we did before,” Panday said. “We’re trying to put out how we as a community are. We’re trying to connect with local people living in the Estero, Bonita and Fort Myers area.”
The 30th anniversary calls for a special guest, and a musician from Chicago is coming down to perform, Varshney said.
“Pandit Sandip Burman will be performing,” he said. “I don’t think people listen to much Indian fusion music, but he provides an interesting mix of Indian and western music. I haven’t heard him perform, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The event is set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Burman should be live on stage from about 12:45 to 2:15 p.m.
Music is not the festival’s only draw, Varshney said.
“The key parts have always been the great Indian food available,” he said. “People can find a taste of everything. We’ll have on-stage performances by local community members — different dances and fashion shows. You can get the culture of India. And some merchandise is available for people to buy and take home.”
India Fest is the association’s largest event, and the $5 entrance fee goes right back to the community, Panday said.
“We try to contribute as much as possible on a charitable basis,” he said. “We give back to the community through those donations.”
But this event is about bringing a slice of India to Florida, Panday said.
“We want to expose us to a lot of community members as to what we’re all about,” he said.
If you go
What: India Fest 2017
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 4
Where: Estero Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Road, Estero
Cost: $5 per person entrance