Fire spinners, bamboo dancers, street percussionists and a Burundian choir will transform downtown Benson into a multicultural bazaar on Friday, August 1st. Benson First Friday, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (LFS) and numerous Benson businesses are teaming up to showcase the talent and creativity of Omaha’s global refugee community.
“This event gives us a chance to introduce Omaha to some of the many refugees who are making our city so much better—through their hard work and resilience, as well as their culture and creativity,” says Patrick Sather, an AmeriCorps member and refugee employment coach from Lutheran Family Services.
The event will raise funds for LFS Community Services programs and will assist their mission of serving refugees from across the globe who have made their way to Omaha and now call the city home. Several countries and cultures spanning the globe will be represented, including: Myanmar, Bhutan, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Togo. 60th Avenue (south of Maple St.) will be closed down for the street festival, which will include activities and attractions for art lovers, beer guzzlers, fashionistas, foodies, and families:
• Beer Garden (5-11pm)
Worldly beers brewed specially for BFF: Culture Crawl by Benson Brewery and Infusion Brewing. Beer will also be provided by Zipline and Beercade.
• Music and Performance Stage (5-10pm)
Karen Dancers, Surja Rai, Dak Thon, Capoeira Angola, Omaha Burundian Choir, Edem Kegey, The Ragabonds, DeWayne B-Box, Omaha fire spinners and street percussion, DJ AK, and more!
• Artist Exhibits
Refugee artists will also present their work at Benson businesses outside the street festival. The Pizza Shoppe Collective will host artist Jester Thaloko with performances by We the Wandering; Benson Brewery will screen two documentaries about refugees and immigrants, Quilted Conscious and Thrive Club, in its new beer garden. Other artists’ work will be presented in window displays throughout Benson. (See following page for a full list.)
• Artist Market (5-10pm)
Handcrafted goods and artist vendors, tarot readings and divinations, henna and facepainting.
• Fashion Show
Street fashion exhibiting refugee and vintage fashion, presented by Parlour 1887, Paperdoll Vintage, Lion’s Mane Vintage, and Vintage Clothing.
• Food Vendors
Salween Thai, Chaima Cuisine, La Casa, Renear Inc., and Voodoo Taco.
• Kid Zone
Entertainment provided by Bryan Hill Entertainment and Dino’s Storage.
WHAT: Benson First Friday: Culture Crawl
WHEN: Friday, August 1st 5-11 p.m.
WHERE: 60th Avenue (south of Maple). Two adjacent parking lots provided.
ARTISTS PRESENTING AT BENSON FIRST FRIDAY: CULTURE CRAWL
Featured Artist: Jane Plagmann
Pizza Shoppe Collective
Featured Artist: Jester Thaloko
Performance: We the Wandering; Comedy Open Mic
Featured Artist: Jonathan LeGrand
World Trivia and Poetry Open Mic
Featured Artist: Maysoun Al Haj
Omaha Bicycle Co
Featured Artist: Shikha Baishya
Featured Artist: Brett Balantyne and Julia Hinson
Featured Artist: Briana Kosmicki
Featured Artist: Jim Dahlin and Live Steel by Melody Scott
Featured Artist: Spencer Pacheco
This event would not be possible without the support of Nebraska’s extraordinary business community. Donors include: Paladino Development Group, Dino’s Storage, Beercade, Aromas, Nebraska Methodist Hospital, Zipline, Benson Brewery, and Infusion Brewing Company.