2021 Programming At The Festival
The World Food & Music Festival will return to its location in Downtown Des Moines (DSM)'s Western Gateway Park for its 17th year on Sept. 17 – 19, 2021!
Cooking Challenge | Culinary Discovery Pavilion | Cultural Activity Pavilion | Fruit Adventure Tent | Naturalization Ceremony | Front Porch
2021 Program Sponsors
The MidAmerican Energy Cooking Challenge pits four teams against one another in a high-energy, high-stakes race to assemble the perfect meal and prove their culinary prowess. Each team must impress an esteemed panel of celebrity judges utilizing ingredients purchased at the Downtown Farmers' Market while navigating a few surprises along the way.
Join the excitement on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Festival Main Stage.
All weekend long, local chefs will demonstrate their culinary skills, offer samples of their delectable creations and share instructions for how to prepare them in the Meredith Culinary Discovery Pavilion. This is a can’t-miss opportunity for anyone who enjoys live cooking demonstrations or is interested in expanding their recipe book.
Visit our Schedule page to see the full list of chefs who will be offering demonstrations during the Festival.
Featuring a great mix of local ambassadors and fun activities, the Cultural Activity Pavilion offers a virtual trip around the world with workshops, interactive presentations and hands-on activities. Each event is designed to expose visitors to authentic cultural experiences here in Greater Des Moines (DSM). In past years attendees learned about Taiko Japanese Drumming, created Zen Calligraphy Characters, participated in world trivia with foreign exchange students and met cultural ambassadors wearing traditional attire from other countries.
11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. | Blank Park Zoo
Make seed balls with organic clay and native Iowa Prairie Flower seeds to take home and plant. The seed balls help create a habitat for our pollinators as part of Blank Park Zoo's Plant.Grow.Fly conservation initiative.
4 – 5 p.m. | Spice of Life
The very distinctive tastes and smells of India come from the many daily uses of herbs and spices. CultureALL Ambassador Mamta Israni will discuss the different spices and herbs that are used in Indian culture to flavor food, for medicinal purposes, for preservation and for beauty treatments.
5:30 – 7 p.m. | The Ancient Art of Mehndi
The art form of applying Henna (known as mehndi) has been a part of many cultures for thousands of years. This ancient practice has spanned several cultures and traditions, and varies from region to region. Like all symbols, the varying designs often mean different things to different cultures. Henna art is often associated with Indian culture and its use as a ceremonial art form for wedding ceremonies. Indian designs are made of a delicate blending of fine lines creating a striking pattern which covers a larger area of the skin such as the hands and feet.
Noon – 1 p.m. | Thai Kids Culture
Through this workshop, guests will be introduced to the educational system in Thailand by Suthiphon Hudson. Guests will learn about the life of a student in Thailand and how the schools there differ from American schools. They will experience the traditional aspects of the Thai curriculum and the mandatory classes on Thai dance and Muay Thai kickboxing that goes along with the math and science school subjects. Guests will learn about what it’s like to grow up in Thailand and the typical day of a Thai student, from traveling to school in a tuk-tuk to attending class in an open-air classroom to wearing the standardized school uniform and haircut. Guests will also have the chance to create a fish out of ribbon, a beloved activity to many Thai students.
1:30 – 4:30 p.m. | Gateway Dance Theater
5 – 6 p.m. | Indian Dance
Visually stunning, this classical dance is suitable for the Kings and Courts of Ancient India. Enjoy the dramatic but subtle hand and eye gestures, footwork, costumes and ornamentations that make this dance form authentically Indian. Learn the meaning of Namaskar, discover the definitions of important hand and head gestures and begin to interpret the ancient scriptures through these movements.
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. | Life in South Sudan
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Japanese Children’s Games
Guests will receive an introduction to Japan’s geography, language, greetings, fashion, cuisine, housing and tradition. CultureALL Ambassador, Miki Takayama, will demonstrate how Japanese traditional clothing (Kimono) is worn and provide an overview of Japanese culture with picture cards. Students will have an opportunity to try out traditional wooden toys and games and learn the art of Origami (paper folding) to create their own 3-D paper sculptures without using scissors or glue.
1:30 – 4:30 p.m. | Museum of Danish America
Focusing on Nordic food trends of the past 20 years, this exhibition explores both traditional food and contemporary innovation, local production and global reach, restaurant culture and home cooking. The cooking traditions and innovations of the Nordic region have captured the attention of the world and inspired chefs and home cooks alike.
The Festival’s Fruit Adventure Tent presented by Voya Financial offers children and adults a unique experience to celebrate fruit from around the world. Visit the Fruit Adventure Tent to explore exotic fruits such as jackfruit, cherimoya and kiwano. Learn about where they are from in the world and even get a taste for yourself! Fresh fruit provided by Hy-Vee, Inc.
Special sampling will be available at the top of each hour from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
In 2019, the World Food & Music Festival was proud to host a Naturalization Ceremony for the U.S. District Court on the Festival Main Stage. A total of 150 individuals became U.S. citizens at the start of The Festival.
The Festival will host its third Naturalization Ceremony on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.
Naturalization is the process by which a foreign citizen or national becomes a U.S. citizen. Festival guests are welcome to watch this special ceremony and celebrate the achievement of these individuals. Read more about the first naturalization ceremony that was held at The Festival.
The Festival Front Porch presented by Veridian Credit Union is the premier gathering space to relax and take in the sites and sounds of the Festival. The Front Porch features a unique lineup of beers, wines and cocktails to be released at various times throughout the weekend. Once they are gone, they are gone! The list includes the Festival's 2021 featured cocktail: an Italian Aperol Spritz. Just like the rest of the Festival, admission to the Front Porch is FREE.
Explore the 2021 Drink Menu here.