Japan selected as this year’s Ethnic Expo host country

People gather on Washington Street for Ethnic Expo in downtown Columbus on Oct. 7.

Republic file photo

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Japan will be celebrated this year as the host country of the 38th annual Ethnic Expo presented by First Financial Bank in downtown Columbus. The two-day festival, which fosters understanding and an appreciation of Columbus’ diverse population, is Oct. 13 and 14 outside Columbus City Hall.

“It was a natural choice for Japan to lead Ethnic Expo as host country this year when reviewing our host country applications,” stated Jody Coffman, Communications and Events Coordinator  and Ethnic Expo Coordinator for the City of Columbus. Earlier in the spring of 2023, a delegation led by Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, spent a week in Japan, visiting locations such as Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagoya, and Miyoshi, which has been Columbus’ sister city for nearly 30 years.

The Columbus Japanese Business Association a Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization member association will represent Japan at this year’s Ethnic Expo. As host country, the food and culture of Japan will be featured in the Host Country Corner of the festival village and will be celebrated with lively entertainment on the main stage.

The City Hall plaza acts as the main stage for Ethnic Expo. The performances and activities will be family friendly and feature acts from all over the world. Headlining Ethnic Expo on Friday, Oct. 13, starting at 8:30 p.m., is Spirit Bomb, an anime tribute band.

Headlining the Main Stage on Saturday, Oct. 14, starting at 8:30 p.m., is Brett Wiscons and the Benders. Wiscons is an Indiana-based singer, songwriter, and five-time author. He most recently returned from the Beach Boys Good Vibrations Cruise featuring acts that included The Beach Boys, Temptations, Isley Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, John Stamos, and Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray among many others.

Ethnic Expo was founded in 1984 by a committee spearheaded by then-Mayor Bob Stewart’s wife, Barbara, to feature the city’s diverse ethnic heritage and to make the celebration a tool for understanding different cultures and customs.

About 35,000 people attend Ethnic Expo every year.