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Henderson hosts Heritage Parade and Festival Saturday

It’s time for two anniversary celebrations in one at Saturday’s 61st annual Henderson Heritage Parade and Festival.

In addition to honoring the official incorporation of Nevada’s second-largest city, this year’s event marks the 15th anniversary of the Henderson Farmers Market with the theme “Let’s Go to the Market!”

Market organizer Dan Star will serve as the grand marshal for the Henderson Heritage Parade, which begins at 10 a.m. in Henderson’s Water Street District.

Star has been working with city officials “to revamp the farmers market, and we thought, what better way” to promote it than to use it as inspiration for the parade theme, according to Henderson spokeswoman Nicole Johnson.

The theme has certainly inspired parade entrants; more than 85 entries are expected, Johnson says, which ranks as “one of the largest (turnouts) I’ve seen.” (All of the entrants are from Southern Nevada, except for one frequent guest: the Junior Concert Band of Long Beach, Calif., whose members participate “almost every year,” she notes.)

Johnson attributes that in part to civic spirit — and part to the theme, which “gives you wide range” to interpret it. (Look for some “Old McDonald”-style floats, along with costumed cobs of corn, carrots, etc., she predicts.)

An online voting campaign conducted during the parade will enable spectators to vote for their favorite floats; the entry with the most online votes will win a $500 People’s Choice Award.

The farmers market itself will be part of the all-day celebration, which kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday with a breakfast featuring Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen and city council members on the Henderson Convention Center lawn. (Naturally, breakfast guests will enjoy a variety of farmers market specialties.)

And speaking of food, an international array of (tr)eats will be available to festival attendees, thanks to the members of the International Food and Folklife Association.

Homemade ethnic foods from around the world — including China, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru and Thailand — will be featured at food booths during the event, according to Dona Brown, the association’s executive director.

“It’s my favorite day of the year, because I eat from everyone’s” booth, Brown says with a chuckle.

And to help attendees work off all those calories, the group is debuting a new attraction: an afternoon Zumbathon, with more than three hours of nonstop cardio-dance workouts based on international rhythms.

Leading Saturday’s Zumba Nation gathering: a lineup of international instructors, from Indonesia to Ireland, Japan to Guatemala, who will take over sessions every 20 to 30 minutes Saturday afternoon.

Japanese taiko drummers, “beautiful Asian dance groups” and “music and dancing from Peru” also are on the around-the-world entertainment schedule, Brown says. (Irish bagpipers, food demonstrations from Korea, Peru and Italy, plus a Chinese costume demonstration, round out the lineup.)

The participants may be presenting music, dance and food from their native countries, but they’re “all local,” Brown notes. And the money they raise at their food booths “stays in Southern Nevada” to support various local charities, she adds.

The International Food and Folklife events have been part of the Henderson Heritage Festival for the past five years. Brown explains that the gathering outgrew its former home at the Clark County Amphitheater.

And the international attractions reflect the Southern Nevada “melting pot,” Johnson suggests, noting how “the flair of world culture” melds with the festival’s hometown aspects.

In the Kids’ World section of the festival, games from around the world — including Chinese jump rope and the Peruvian coin-toss game known as sapo — will add to the fun, along with make-and-take crafts.

The festival’s “Escape to Artscape Avenue” section offers a variety of culinary demonstrations, from carving to pastries to sushi, while a Super Showdown car show runs from noon to 6 p.m. on Water Street.

Among the festival’s other attractions: a 5 p.m. concert by Bella Electric Strings and various carnival rides.

All of which add up to, in Brown’s view, “great fun for the whole family.”

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

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