Sunday, June 26, 2016

First Lorain International Festival – 1967

Full page ad from the Journal of July 6, 1967
It’s interesting looking back at the very first Lorain International Festival as covered in the Lorain Journal.

The first Lorain International Festival was very well planned, and established the template for all of the succeeding ones. It included the International Princess Pageant and Dance, the International Parade, two International Band Concerts, the International Festival Mayor’s Breakfast and the International Fair and Bazaar. There was also an International Fish Fry at the Lorain Yacht Club, an International Sail Down that began at the Vermilion Yacht Club and finished at the Lorain Yacht Club, and an International Regatta Race.

Back then, the International Princess Pageant and Dance took place on Monday, July 3. As the paper reported, "fourteen lovely girls representing ten nationalities" competed for the title of Queen of the International Festival.  As reported in the JournalIrene Kychun, the Ukrainian princess, was crowned Queen. First runner up was Norma Rosario, the Puerto Rican princess, followed by Peggy Davis, the Afro-American princess as second runner up, and Vickie Chick, the Polish princess as third runner up.

The first International Parade took place on July 4, 1967 kicking off the week-long celebration. Today’s International Parade is now the culmination of the celebration, taking place on the last day of the Festival.

The opening night of the International Bazaar and Fair – Friday, July 7, 1967 – had more than 20,000 visitors.

On June 27, 1967 the article below appeared about the upcoming International Fair and Bazaar, noting that the booths were under construction inside a building at the Sheffield Shopping Center. It compared the bazaar to a World’s Fair with more than 30 participating nationalities.

Malcolm D. Hartley, then Editorial Page Editor of the Journal, wrote a great article that appeared on the Page of Opinion on July 3, 1967, marking the opening of the first annual International Festival. Its words ring true today.


International Festival – A Salute to New Lorain
Editorial Page Editor

TODAY MARKS the opening of the first annual International Festival in Lorain. A full week of pageantry, parading, dancing and fun is ahead for all who desire to share in the activities.

Why an International Festival?

The question is one deserving of an answer and for which there is an answer.

THE FESTIVAL IS A SYMBOL of an awakened Lorain – a Lorain which is becoming aware of its unlimited potential to shape itself into a vibrant, interesting, thriving cosmopolitan metropolis different than any other city in the United States.

Different, yes. Also exciting and inspiring. And a happy place, too – a community in which the residents take pride and from which visitors depart with regret.

For years Lorain has blindly accepted a role an an industrial center, economically adequate but culturally deprived. No such limitation was, or is, necessary. This community has within its reach both economic and spiritual blessings. It possesses rare qualities which will be priceless once they are fully recognized and utilized.

CAN YOU IMAGINE having a treasure in your home which you and your family have left untouched because you did not recognize its value?

That’s what Lorain has been doing, failing to recognize the bright jewels at our fingertips in the form of the customs, languages, dances, arts, foods, architecture and viewpoints of the various nationality groups which comprise this community.

LORAIN HAS BEEN SHAPED by immigration, wave after wave from many countries throughout the past century. Always the immigrants were accepted without hostility by those who had preceded them, and found Lorain a comfortable haven. The newcomers brought with them the jewels of their cultures.

The time has come to use and share the treasure.

The festival is a symbol of a new era. It is an opener, a curtain raiser. It is a force to emphasize and to capitalize the word “International” so that it becomes a part of International Lorain.

Why an International Festival?

As such events go, it is big, action-filled and unusual. It has the capacity to make Fourth of July week of 1967 memorable in Lorain. Yet it is only the beginning of a movement that can make Lorain a unique city with a rare international flavor that will set it apart, with distinction, from all others.

FOR ALL OUR MATERIAL progress in the United States, there is a sameness to cities that is tiresome. The few that have escaped the pattern stand out with the clarity of a lighthouse on a dark night. Lorain hasn’t escaped, but can.

Think of Lorain as a center of world culture, with ships from faraway lands in the harbor, with a permanent international market, with sections which preserve the architecture, shops and products of various nationalities, with a new city hall and port headquarters flying the flags of many nations.

Our goal is not to be the same, but to be different. The only “sameness” we need is the true American spirit which already exists and which binds us all together.

Why an International Festival?

To herald the birth – rather, the rebirth – of our community as Lorain, the International City.

That’s why.


Another editorial summed up the whole reason behind the festival. It appeared in the Journal on Saturday, July 8, 1967.

New Image for Lorain

LORAIN IS GAINING a new image as a city with a purpose – a city ready to grow culturally, eager to adhere to the principles of brotherhood and prepared to strive for progress and recognition.

The International Festival being held this week has had much to do with putting the community on a new course. The new image was evident at the Mayor’s Breakfast on Thursday.

Every segment of the population was represented, including public officials, industrial and business figures, women’s groups, average citizens, nationality organizations, professional people and top civic leaders.

Front page of July 7, 1967 Journal
Headlining the program was Gov. James A. Rhodes, who called for a loudly publicized, hard-hitting program of activities designed to make Lorain known everywhere. His promotional suggestions included an international swim across Lake Erie and international bike races.

The way to gain attention, he commented, was to do things out of the ordinary.

Howard T. Robinson was the second featured speaker. He is labor advisor to the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs of the U. S. State Department.

He declared that Lorain, a city of moderate size made up of 55 nationalities, has a rare opportunity to demonstrate for others how different languages, cultures, skills and customs can be blended.

The breakfast was the event which, more than any other during this week of the International Festival, put the focus on unity – civic advancement achieved through the cooperation of everyone.

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