World RefugeeFEST Moves to Maracana Indoor Sports Center

June 4, 2012

Tucson and the world come together June 23 at the 4th Annual Tucson World RefugeeFEST 2012, a free all-day family event in celebration of World Refugee Day.

The refugee fest will bring the world Downtown.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Maracana Indoor Sports Center, 555 East 18th Street, near the Armory Park Neighborhood.

Festivities begin 9 a.m. with a National Bank of Arizona All-Arizona Refugee Soccer Tournament with refugee teams from all of Arizona competing for top honors.

Moving the Tucson World RefugeeFEST indoors will bring a “cool” factor to RefugeeFEST held historically in conjunction with World Refugee Day and offering an attractive reason for even more Tucsonans to enjoy the all-day festival and soccer tournament in the giant, cooled, indoor sports arena.

Cultural events begin at 2 p.m. with Learning A-Z Kids Corner activities, Global Village food & culture exhibits, vendors and musical performances featuring the Arizona Symphonic Winds conducted by Hungarian immigrant Laslo Veres.

At 3 p.m. a special citizenship ceremony will be held by the United States Citizen & Immigration Services.

At 5 p.m. an open ‘Tucson’s Got Talent Show’ will showcase refugee musicians, dancers, performers and poets.

The 6 to 9 p.m. evening program at RefugeeFEST will feature the NBAZ Soccer Tournament award ceremony, main stage performances including drumming and dancing from Burundi,  Bhutan and Brazil; arts & crafts displays from refugees around the world as well as educational booths, ethnic food, and interactive multi-lingual children’s activities.

Attendees take the US Citizenship quiz and learn to speak one of 50 different languages in the Global Village. These activities provide our community an opportunity to have fun and share their cultural heritage while engaging Tucsonans in both local and global humanitarian issues.

The event is free. A suggested donation of $1 or any amount will be gratefully accepted. Food, crafts and cultural goods will be offered for sale supporting many refugee micro-businesses and non-profits such as Somali Bantu Association of Tucson, Bhutanese Mutual Assistance Association, Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting, Sewing & Crafts, Laos Students Association, and Tucson International Alliance of Refugee Communities (TIARC).

This year organizers hope to create even greater excitement around soccer. Maracana Indoor Sports Arena is owned and operated by Mladen Kozak, a Bosnian refugee. Teams representing Bosnia, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Burundi and Bhutan are expected to be highly competitive.

National Bank of Arizona is underwriting the Soccer tournament and other local businesses will support the event including CBRE, La Frontera Arizona and Diamond Eye Care. Learning A-Z, a Tucson based global educational resource company is providing support for Kids Corner. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Tucson World RefugeeFEST 2012 is a volunteer driven project that seeks to build capacity among Tucson-based mutual assistance associations. The Somali Bantu Association of Tucson Arizona (SBATA) has stepped forward to be this year’s festival fiscal sponsor. Co-Chair of RefugeeFEST, Megan Fabry, volunteer coordinator at SBATA, has brought dynamic energy to the organizing committee.

“The Tucson World RefugeeFEST is all about connection – between the community, the refugees, and the diverse set of cultures we have here in Tucson,” Fabry said. “Since soccer is a language we all speak, why not play? Since food, music & dance is something we all love, why not eat, play & move? Being able to find our common ground together, and celebrate it is what RefugeeFEST is all about.”

More information about supporting or donating can be found online at: www.tucsonrefugeefest.com or call Megan Fabry at 520-881-4373. Donations are tax-deductible and welcome.

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