Global Village Festival in Gilbert

In past years, scenes like this abounded at the Global Village Festival in Gilbert, drawing thousands. This year, much of the festival will be online.

Gilbert Global Village Festival event planners have decided the show must go on, and are making the most of COVID-19 limitations with a week of multicultural activities.  

This year’s festival will be a mix of virtual and in-person activities between tomorrow, March 29 and April 3.

The festival will culminate with a live multicultural performance held at Gilbert Regional Park Friday, April 2.  The event will include performances from Instituto de Folklor Mexicano, Astarte Belly Dance, and Native Spirit Dancers.  

There will also be crafts available for children to assemble at the event, according to Kimi Shackelford, senior recreation leader at Gilbert’s Parks and Recreation Department.  

Shackelford said there will be “a variety of cultures represented in those crafts,” which may include drum kits and masks to decorate, she said.  

“All three groups have been a part of our festival in previous years,” Shackelford said.  She added that “all three of them were booked to perform last April,” before it was postponed twice due to COVID-19.  

Shackelford said the Gilbert Global Village Festival normally has “thousands of people that attend with multiple performance stages and food vendors and craft booths.  

“And this year, since we can’t hold an event like that, the only things we’re doing in person are things where we can limit capacity.”  

Friday’s performance is free but space is limited to maintain social distancing and advanced registration is required, the event website said.  

Shackelford said people can reserve “circles that hold two, four, and eight people, depending on the size,” painted into the grass at the park. 

People may recognize this setup from other events in the past year, Shackelford said, and the circles are “their own little pod so they can safely enjoy whatever event they are attending while we’re able to maintain social distancing.” 

This week Gilbert Parks and Recreation will offer “virtual language lessons” on their Facebook page, Shackelford said.  She said these short educational videos are “definitely something to tune in that week.” 

The parks and recreation department will also offer Global Village “remote rec bags” that people can pick up March 29 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Gilbert Community Center. 

The $10 bags will have “art projects, fun boredom busters like coloring books and word searches, ingredients to make fun snacks and more,” according to the website. 

The department will also host a “kids paint party” at 4:30 p.m. March 31 at the Gilbert Community Center, where “we provide all the supplies and you get to go home with your very own masterpiece,” their website said.  

A similar paint party for adults will be held at the same location at 5 p.m. April 2.  

At 9 a.m. April 2, the department will host “Dances Around the World,” a one-hour class featuring 20 minutes each of belly dancing, bollywood dance and Zumba at the Freestone Park Amphitheater. Advanced registration is required.  

On Saturday, April 3, the parks and recreation department will host “Highland Games,” a traditional Scottish competition consisting of a variety of challenges, their website said.  

The Highland Games will take place at Gilbert Regional Park, and competition starts at 9:30 a.m.  

Highland Games veterans and novices alike can register to participate for free using the event’s website.  

Also on April 3, the AZ Cricket Club will play two playoff games at Nichols Park, the festival website said. The event is open to the public and free to attend, and “there will be time in between games to check out equipment and learn more about the sport and what AZ Cricket has to offer,” the website said.  

According to Shackelford, the interactive events and classes are “a really fun way to do something that is really big in another culture,” and “the experience of seeing different cultural performances is just really mind opening if you’ve never seen anything like that before.” 

People interested in attending any activity within the Gilbert Global Village Festival can find more information and links to register at gilbertaz.gov.