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Rexburg Dance Festival gets major make-over

Plans are under way for the annual Rexburg summer dance festival.

This year however, there are major changes with the event, including the name. The dance festival will now be called the Idaho International Summer Fest. It will also be moved up to early July and is slated to run for one week.

The festival started in 1986 and over the years it’s held a heavy appealfor the older demographic.

“This festival appealed to to them when it began, they loved it, but that’s been a great run for 30 years. Now I’m saying lets look at what we are now and lets appeal to the demographic we are now,” said Donna Benfield, executive director at the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s event will cater to the youth-dominated demographic in Rexburg. Benfield said they will keep the fundamental traditions of the festival, such as the two gala night performances. The opening night ceremonies and lengthy speeches will no longer be a part of the festival; instead, a party-like atmosphere for opening night is the goal.

Preparations for this year’s festival also detail new interactive workshops and events geared toward youth to not only watch performances but have the opportunity to interact with the performers. Dance and cultural activities will dominate the festivities and events will be scheduled in downtown Rexburg at the local schools and parks.

“How to basket weave, how to play the ukelele and the drums that they bring. this is our interactive part. We’re going have a lot of events where you can come down to Smith Park and you can go to a different country and you can learn something that that country is going to teach you,” said Benfield.

The festival not only brings cultural exchange and tourism to eastern Idaho, it’s one of the major economic drivers, bringing in about $2 million into the area.

Benifeld said she is excited to see new traditions take hold with this year’s festival and is eager to see how the youth will take to the new changes.

“The youth, hey, they’re going be the movers and shakers and for them to understand this global economy, that’s what we need to do,” said Benfield.

Four countries have been confirmed for the event: China, New Zealand, Israel and the United States.

The Rexburg Chamber of Commerce encourages those who would like to host the performers or volunteer at the festival to sign up at their website or call the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce.

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