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iFest: This Is Our Party

Better music than ACL and fewer hippies

"It fits Houston in that way," he continues. "We're never going to get the tourists they get in New Orleans. We love tourists, but we estimate we get about 20 percent of our audience from outside the four-county [Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Galveston] area. But they're not flying in from New York like they do to JazzFest — those are people coming over from Austin or San Antonio or Beaumont."

iFest doesn't have the same national profile as JazzFest or Austin City Limits, but when Mitchell starts throwing around attendance figures, it sounds like it doesn't need to. If the weather works out both weekends — and he's quick to point out that it usually doesn't — Mitchell says iFest could have as many as 200,000 to 250,000 visitors. That's about the same number ACL draws, albeit with one fewer day.

But because Houston is already such a hodgepodge of cultures, Mitchell says iFest-goers are likely to watch a Nigerian group alongside actual Nigerians, or a Latino band amidst actual Latinos, rather than a bunch of white hippies-in-training like at ACL. (Noise figures there may be a few of those at iFest too, though.)

Location Info

Map

Houston International Festival

5373 W. Alabama, Ste. 235
Houston, TX 77056

Category: Community Venues

Region: Galleria

Details

The Houston International Festival runs Saturday and Sunday, April 18, 19, 25 and 26, in downtown Houston, roughly a radius spreading out from City Hall at Bagby and McKinney. Visit www.ifest.org for more information.

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"This is our party," he says. "The Houston International Festival is embraced by Houstonians as the one time when we can all come together and rub shoulders. You'll see a Nigerian guy with a soccer ball on his head standing next to a Tejano guy in a cowboy hat standing next to a yuppie in madras shorts and penny loafers standing next to somebody from India or Vietnam.

"It reflects our reality — first off, for the diversity that is native to Texas with white and black and Hispanic, and then with the international element added onto that with people from all over the world," he adds. "That's what our festival celebrates.

"Are you convinced yet?"

Indeed. At this point, that's a rhetorical question if Noise has ever heard one.

chris.gray@houstonpress.com

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