Parade and festival celebrate international influences, March 23

March 21, 2013 at 11:02 am
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.
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A parade and festival celebrating the region’s international community will be held Saturday in downtown Spartanburg.

The Upstate International Festival parade starts 10 a.m. at E. Main and Dean Streets. This is the first parade, which is expected to become an annual event.

The parade will end in Morgan Square where a “mini-festival,” called Meet the World on the Square, is scheduled until 2 p.m. African drummers, bagpipers, an accordionist and Cherokee Indian drummers will perform. Various schools and civic organizations also will participate.

Jane Warner, festival coordinator with the city of Spartanburg, said Saturday’s event is one of many this month celebrating cultural diversity in the Upstate.

A Japan World Heritage Sites exhibition is on display at Wofford College where a shamisen — an instrument likened to a Japanese traditional banjo — recital begins at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Other area events include an Indian Shaadi Celebration, International Community Breakfast and a panel discussion featuring international leaders from 16 countries, according to Upstate International’s website. A complete calendar of events can be viewed at

According to the website, people from more than 100 cultures live and work in the Upstate.

The German-American Club sponsored an International Soccer Tournament Sunday at USC  Upstate.

Deryle Hope, associate director of international studies at USC Upstate, said it was the 12th time the tournament has been held. Hope said teams were comprised of players from Russia, Germany, Mexico, Vietnam and other countries.

Hope said more than 90 events are planned this month throughout the region. Many events have been ongoing, while some are new, he said. They helped serve as an impetus for Upstate International. He said organizers also wanted to highlight and show appreciation for international communities.

“We see an increasing number of international students coming from abroad,” Hope said of USC Upstate’s student body.

Those students have connections to people already here or have heard of the university.

Many internationals are drawn here by industry, he said. After that initial wave of workers, come friends and relatives, he said.

Hope, along with Warner, serves on the Upstate International steering committee.

He said the idea is to do this every March.

“It will be bigger and better next year,” Hope said.

Warner also anticipates the annual event will grow. Saturday’s events, she said, are a “starting point.”

She promises it will be a “colorful” celebration.

“It’s an effort to show people what we really have,” Warner said.

Warner thinks the community should thank those people and international employers who created thousands of jobs here.

She said it’s fitting that Paul Foerster will serve as grand marshall of the city’s first international parade.

The German native and Spartanburg resident is the retired executive vice president of Hoechst Fibers, which began U.S. operations in 1967.

The former company primarily manufactured polyester fibers for the American textile industry. Foerster previously told the Herald-Journal that Hoechst’s decision to open here was influenced by its proximity to the textile industry and the leadership of former Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce CEO Richard Tukey.

Foerster also is credited for playing an instrumental role in attracting other international businesses to the Upstate, including BMW. Foerster will ride in the parade in a vehicle manufactured at the automaker’s Spartanburg County facility, Warner said.

Not only was Foerster a business leader. He has held many leadership positions within the community.