Harrisonburg International Festival to Take Festival Online in 2020

HARRISONBURG (June 18, 2020) — The Harrisonburg International Festival Planning Team announced today that the popular event scheduled for September 26, 2020 in downtown Harrisonburg will transition to virtual activities for 2020 using the Festival’s website at www.harrisonburg-international-festival.org. This action is being taken over concerns for public safety and welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of vendors and festival-goers have gathered for this event each year since 1997.

“In partnership with the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SV SBDC) and other organizations, we will be shifting the 2020 event to an online format,” said Tim Ruebke, FairField Center Executive Director and Harrisonburg International Festival Planning Team Chair. “We are excited about this option for continuing the festival from a safe platform that will give the many international entrepreneurs and Global Village participants another way to share their food, artisan wares, and culture in spite of current circumstances.”

The team is expecting that the following will be added to the festival website at www.harrisonburg-international-festival.org in late summer/early fall of 2020: 

  • International food features and listings for dining, take-out, and delivery of our area’s wonderful international food choices.
  • International artist/artisan features and listings for purchasing goods online, curbside, and in-store.
  • Recorded performances by local international performing artists, plus information on how to purchase their music.
  • Free activities, downloads, and educational items just for kids on international topics.

SV SBDC Director Joyce Krech had this to say about the project: “Creating more visibility for our many local international businesses, especially via an online format, is a great way to help bridge the difficulties of the current COVID-19 crisis. We are happy to showcase and help our community discover the wealth of international food, products, cultural offerings, and services that are available to us all. This new website will be an excellent resource for the businesses, our residents and visitors alike.” 

More virtual activities are being explored for inclusion in late 2020/2021, such as interactive games, live streamed performances, a marketplace, and special presentations. Additions will be announced as they are developed.


Mission: The Harrisonburg International Festival strives to celebrate the diversity of Harrisonburg and the surrounding communities by providing a friendly forum in which cultural groups and local international businesses can showcase their cultural and linguistic values as a means to educate the larger community and to support awareness for their presence and contribution.

History: The festival began in 1997 as an alliance of various community groups and individuals who wanted to promote tolerance to all residents and offer support to local immigrants and cultural businesses. That first year, it was a small and dedicated volunteer group that put together the festival on short notice. Since that time the Festival has grown so significantly that the planning group asked FairField Center, in partnership with Harrisonburg Parks & Recreation, to assume planning responsibilities.  In response to growing demand, the Festival was moved to Historic Downtown Harrisonburg in 2018. The current planning team continues to diversify through partnerships and increasing community involvement.

Realizing the importance of communication, the Festival has always translated promotional and informational materials in the most prominent languages of our area. Since its inception, international music, dance, food, artists, storytelling, and family-friendly activities for everyone have been the mainstay of our event and what have given rise to our community ethos: ‘Educate, Entertain, and Eat!’

The Harrisonburg International Festival is a program of the Civic Engagement branch of the FairField Center, a nonprofit organization working to advance dialogue and understanding in our community.