A showcase for the city’s cultural diversity, Chicago Heights this weekend will hold its 6th annual Festival of Sister Cities.

Held on the grounds of Bloom High School, 101 W. 10th St., the festival opens at 5 p.m. Friday with a carnival and continues to 10 p.m., runs from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

The festival will feature a carnival, ethnic food, live entertainment, a motor bike and car show and a culinary competition event, according to Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez.

The event “celebrates our community’s diverse local culture and that of our Sister Cities,” the mayor said in a news release.

Chicago Heights has, through Sister Cities International, established four Sister City relationships — Wadowice, Poland; Asuogyaman District, Ghana, West Africa; Cedral, San Luis Potosi, Mexico; and San Benedetto del Tronto, Marche, Italy.

A new event this year will be a charity chili cook-off, pitting city employees, including police officers and firefighters, against one another. It will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“Each department has designated a charity of choice, and all proceeds from ticket sales for the Chili-Cook Off will benefit these charities,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez noted that during the 1920’s Chicago Heights drew workers of Italian, Irish, Polish, Mexican and African-American descent to the area to be closer to the developing steel industry.

“This annual celebration honors our four sister cities and the cultural heritage of the immigrants who made Chicago Heights home,” Gonzalez said. “The festival will showcase Sister City booths to view the displays representing the culture and heritage of each region.”

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