Hudson -- For seven days in April, Hudson will be under foreign occupation.
The invading army will not be a hostile force, but tastes, music and festivities from around the world, as part of the Hudson International Festival from April 6 to 13.
"The Hudson International Festival is a celebration hosted by the Merchants of Hudson," Janet Rhodes, of Janet Rhodes Brings You Fair Trade, said. "There are over 25 participating merchants who host a selected country."
About 25 merchants will decorate windows and set up interior displays with maps, quizzes, flags and fun facts about their selected county.
Merchants will also participate in a food and spirits night on opening day, April 6, according to Rhodes. During food and spirits night, participating merchants will offer food and drink indigenous to their country from 5 to 8 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
"People can go to www.facebook.com/hudsoninternationalfestival and take the survey as a fun way to share their cultural heritage with our wider community," Rhodes said.
"The opening ceremony is April 6 at 5 p.m. at the Hudson Public Library and Historical Society," Rhodes said. "Mayor William Currin will address the community and there will be a parade of flags around First & Main and down Main Street concluding at the gazebo."
During the week-long event, merchants will offer a variety of special sales and activities, including passports which can be downloaded at www.merchantsofhudson.com.
"World travelers" who visits, and has a passport stamped by 15 countries [businesses], will receive a prize at Epiphany, 105 First Street, Hershey's of Hudson, 50 W. Streetsboro Street or Janet Rhodes brings you Fair Trade, 134 N. Main Street.
Visitors who travel to all 25 countries are eligible for a grand prize drawing of a gift basket containing various items donated from participating merchants.
"Merchants will also be offering World Traveler Rewards throughout the week," Rhodes said. "Specifics can be found at www.merchantsofhudson.com."
Not only will merchants be involved, but also local schools.
On April 5, Evamere Elementary School will have its annual International Festival.
Seton Catholic School will act as the "United Nation," in cooperation with the Hudson Library and Historical Society, Rhodes said.
Hudson Montessori fourth and fifth graders are participating in a poster contest with the theme, "Many Cultures, One Family," Rhodes said. Nine and 10-year-olds are also invited to participate in a contest to win $25 by submitting an 11 by 17 inch poster to Janet Rhodes brings you Fair Trade by April 1.
"Most of the Hudson public schools will be honoring 'A Buck For Ubumi Week' as children bring in $1 of their own money to support our Hudson orphanage in Zambia, Africa," Rhodes added.
This is the third year for the festival, which started as a project to support local merchants during the off season, Rhodes said.
"But it quickly became apparent that we were about something much larger," Rhodes added. "The International Festival is an opportunity for us to lift up the cultural diversity within our community, to learn about and from each other."
The festival is also "our small effort to promote world peace right here in Hudson," Rhodes said.
The festival will culminate with a closing ceremony at 2 p.m. April 13 at the Hudson Expo. The ceremony will include performances by dancers from the Shri Kalaa Mandir Center for Indian Performing Arts and the McCulloch School of Irish Dance. Council President David Basil will also make a presentation, Rhodes said.
Rhodes hopes the event will help foster world peace by spreading understanding, she said.
"If that's not possible in its entirety then I would settle for a little contribution toward that goal," Rhodes said. "We have such rich cultural heritage within our community and we want to raise awareness of this richness and encourage us all to look beyond ourselves a little bit to see our relationship with folks living all around this beautiful planet."
Rhodes asks that residents talk to their organizations to consider ways it can "do something to lift up cultural awareness -- a progressive international dinner, connecting with a merchant to share some of your travel memorabilia, learn or teach about other religions or traditions."
Karen Sue Carter, a festival committee member called the festival a way Hudson can recognize its diversity.
"As a community, it's important that we recognize the diversity and attract members of the community that have a voice that is not necessarily heard as often as it should be," Carter said. "And it's good time for us to gel together and learn what value each nationality and culture has to offer."
For more information or to be involved call Rhodes at 330-653-9006 or send an email to email@example.com.