Jackson’s International Food and Arts Festival
In 2013, community representative, Eduardo Morales, asked the City of Jackson to consider hosting a local festival in order to celebrate the city’s diversity. Morales loved Jackson, but he also was concerned that many of the city’s international residents felt overlooked. In response, Mayor Jerry Gist then organized a series of community meetings to discuss various possibilities and how this would impact the city. Soon afterward, Morales and Dr. Sandra Dee co-chaired the event together and collaborated with like-minded individuals to make the Jackson International Food & Arts Festival a reality.
The festival’s mission is “to spread cultural awareness, promote cross-cultural engagement, and celebrate the diverse backgrounds of residents throughout West Tennessee.” Food and art are important elements of the festival, because this gives international residents the opportunity to share their country, culture, and heritage. Furthermore, the festival serves to remind the Jackson community that we are far more alike than we are different.
Since the first JIFAF back in 2014, more than twenty countries have been represented such as India, Germany, Japan, and Mexico. Other festivities have also included a parade of performers, food vendors, and a kid’s corner. Because of the event’s overall success, the city has continued the event during the fall.