VALHALLA, N.Y. – Westchester residents can take a trip around the world this summer without leaving their own backyards as the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla hosts its annual series of culture festivals.
Sponsored by Westchester County Parks, the festivals will celebrate a variety of countries and cultures. The series kicked off May 19 with an Asian-American Heritage festival featuring China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma and the Philippines. This weekend, the Dam will host festivals for Albanian Heritage on Saturday and African-American Heritage on Sunday. Both take place from noon to 7 p.m.
Frank Cotaj, organizer of the Albanian Heritage festival through Our Lady of Shkodra Church in Hartsdale, has been involved in the festival for the past six years.
“It’s great to just bring fellow Albanians together and keep the culture alive in this area,” Cotaj said.
Cotaj said the event is expected to bring from 4,000 to 5,000 people to the plaza Saturday for a day of Albanian food, music and sports, including soccer and chess.
“I guarantee anyone who comes out will have a great time,” Cotaj said.
Each festival will be held rain or shine. Admission and parking are free to all residents. Seating at each event is informal and the Westchester County Parks Department suggests guests bring blankets or lawn chairs for their own seating.
The following culture festivals are scheduled for this summer:
- July 8 - Italian Heritage Festival, noon to 7 p.m., Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla.
- July 15 - Irish Heritage Festival, noon to 7 p.m., Ridge Road Park, Hartsdale.
- July 15 - Polish Heritage Festival, noon to 6 p.m., Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla.
- July 22 - Hispanic Heritage Festival, noon to 7 p.m., Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla.
- Aug. 5 - Indian Heritage Festival, 12:30 to 6:30 p.m., Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla.
- Aug. 19 - Jewish Music Festival, 5 to 8 p.m., Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla.