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Norwalk photos: NICE

Li-Garden Dance Company was founded by dancer and choreographer Kaili Chen in Stamford and is committed to traditional Chinese culture., the Norwalk International Cultural Exchange (NICE) states. It focuses on performing and teaching classical and innovative Chinese dance styles. (Richard Bonenfant)

Janet Evelyn, NICE (Norwalk International Cultural Exchange) festival founder. (John Levin)

NORWALK, Conn. — Chinese dancers mingled with their counterparts from different cultures recently in Oyster Shell Park, be they Native American or exhibiting moves from Japan, Hawaii, Argentina or India.

The sixth annual NICE (Norwalk International Cultural Exchange) festival drew thousands, organizer Janet Evelyn estimated.

“We thought we had an exceptional mix of cultures represented at the festival. And these folk and traditional artists are highly skilled in their art forms. And we take pride in, in bringing these groups for our community to enjoy,” she said.

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (John Levin)

Evelyn approached the City in 2014 with the idea to combine the many siloed cultural festivals and combining them into one event celebrating the rich global heritage and culture of which Norwalkers are so proud, according to the NICE website.

“The NICE festival is specifically designed and focus on showcasing our global and cultural heritage. And Norwalk is a perfect place to do that and to demonstrate that, because of the way Norwalk was developed as a as the working-class community that welcomes many of these different groups in the first place,” Evelyn said. “The very attributes that that made Norwalk not so appealing in the years past has now become its strongest attribute.”

The all-day event was held July 9.  Yes, it was hot but a breeze “helped a lot” and NICE organizers provided two big tents on the park’s great lawn and one at the Child of the World stage, she said.

(Jim Russell)

Costs went up this year as much as 30%, and NICE asked visitors for donations as they entered the free festival, as NICE isn’t supported by a foundation or corporation, she said.

Evelyn thanks the City’s “very supportive” Recreation and Parks Department for making the event possible and said grants from Walmart, Pepsico and Modelo were a major help. Smaller donations “added up,” the Maritime Aquarium was also supportive and South Norwalk Electric and Water (SNEW) deserves a “big shout out” for assisting in erecting banners that drew additional fundraising success.

‘All of those little efforts add up to making the festival whole,” Evelyn said. “So we’re very grateful to all of the people that support this program and, and want to see this program continue to thrive.”

Photo at top by Richard Bonenfant.

Video by John Levin.

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (John Levin)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (John Levin)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (John Levin)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

Jim Russell and a performer at the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Contributed)

 

Brenda Penn-Williams, left, enjoys the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

The Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County at the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

At the NICE Festival, July 9 in Oyster Shell Park. (Richard Bonenfant)

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