Louisville’s WorldFest brought hundreds of foodies and culture-lovers to the Belvedere in downtown Louisville this Labor Day weekend. The festival celebrated its 19th anniversary, after taking last year off due to the pandemic.
Liam Nance, 11, was enjoying a burrito Saturday. He was disappointed last year when the festival was canceled.
“It was pretty sad because I kinda wanted to see what kind of food they had,” he said.
The crepes are his favorite. “But I also really like this!” he said, referring to his burrito.
His friend, 12-year-old Joseph Jolly, said his favorite part was “seeing what everyone in WorldFest has made”— especially when it comes to seeing his own Puerto Rican culture celebrated.
Nearby, 17-year-old Ethan Lyngstad was slinging scoops for Gelato Gilberto, a local gelateria.
“It’s really interesting seeing the diversity of people just coming and ordering ice cream,” he said. “It’s good to be a part of someone’s lives in such a way where we can give happiness to them when they’re already in a happy place.”
Shanecka Bedford was among many retail vendors who returned this year. Bedford showed off her wares: eco-friendly stones that her husband had cut and designed, and handmade fabrics, purses, and masks.
“Our thing is: If we didn’t make it, then we make sure that the artisan that did make it gets paid a fair wage,” she said.
Bedford has visited WorldFest for four years. She said she cried last year when she heard it was canceled.
The pandemic is by many measures worse this September than it was last year. The delta variant of COVID-19, combined with low vaccination rates, is causing a surge of cases and hospitalizations. But city officials say the outdoor location of the festival and the availability of vaccines and masks mean the event can be held relatively safely.
Vendors and staff were required to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. City officials are recommending masks for attendees.
WorldFest is free and runs through 8 p.m. Monday.
Louisville Public Media is an event sponsor.
Breya Jones contributed to this story.