History of the Festival of Nations

In the Spring of 1972, several ethnic group leaders got together with an idea to organize an art and cultural festival in the Capital District. The purpose was three-fold. The first was to prove how well people with diverse background can work together and have lots of fun doing it; the second was to present a glimpse of the world to the residents of the Capital District; and the third was to get the children involved so that they can appreciate their heritage with their parents.

The idea was soon turned into a reality and first ethnic festival was held on October 27, 1972. We named it "Festival of Nations". It was held at the Hudson Valley Community College. It was welcomed so much that thousands of people had to be turned away. The following year it was moved to the RPI Field House to be able to accommodate everybody. In 1978, when the Convention Center at the Empire State Plaza in Albany was built and ready for use, we moved there. This was a more central location and had modern equipment and facilities.

The word got around about us - how much enjoyment we offer for the family on one Sunday afternoon in the Fall of every year. Now there are several international bazaars/festivals in the area. They are organized by different institutions. Our Festival of Nations remains the original. It is unique, in the sense that we, the participating nations, ourselves, organize everything. Each nation has equal voice. There is no veto power, no deadlocks nor sanctions. Here at a small-scaled United Nations, the decisions are made jointly. Any ethnic group (registered as a non-profit group) can apply to join us.

This year, we are celebrating our 35th annual Festival with you! We hope you enjoy your few hours with us by looking at the arts and crafts from different parts of the world; by tasting delicious ethnics foods; and by being part of the audience indulging in the music with rhythm and dances representing various cultures and traditions of the world.

Manoj Ajmera
Chairman (1982-1990; 1995-2006) of the Festival of Nation