TAMPA — You don't have to go to India to experience its culture. The 25th annual India Festival is today and Saturday at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
See Bollywood stars, sample authentic cuisine and catch a late-night cricket game at an event that organizers say has become one of the biggest in the state.
India Fest originated with just a few hundred local Indian families and took place at the University of South Florida Sun Dome for the first 23 years, said Kiran C. Patel, the founder and honorary chairman of the festival. It moved to the Florida State Fairgrounds last year and had more than 10,000 people in attendance. This year, organizers expect up to 20,000.
"We use food, costumes, art and culture to show what a rich heritage it is," Patel said.
The event begins Friday night with Bollywood concerts featuring Vishal Kothari and Sandeep Acharya, both of Indian Idol fame.
The night will also include a Bollywood dance competition judged by Bollywood stars Mona Singh, Pooja Batra and singer Shruti Kalyani.
On Saturday, watch a fashion show, sample food, shop for jewelry, art, music, clothes and artifacts.
There will also be a community health fair and live entertainment.
There's even a late-night cricket game Saturday. It begins at 10:30 p.m. and will feature the best 26 players in the Tampa Bay area.
"You don't have to go to India," said Chetan R. Shah, the president of Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay and organizer of the festival. "If you want a taste of India, please go to the state fairgrounds this weekend."
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2442.