The Big Table returns as part of Welcoming Month in Iroquois Park, celebrating potluck, peace and diversity
Mayor Craig Greenberg today announced The Big Table, a Welcoming event aimed at bringing people from all backgrounds together to share food and conversation, is returning to Iroquois Park on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Each participant is asked to bring a dish, fruit, dessert or non-alcoholic drink to share with at least eight people. Participants are encouraged to bring a dish that reflects something about them or their family, along with a recipe card. Tables, chairs, eating utensils and plates will be provided by event sponsors, Louisville Metro’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, the Kentucky Colonels and Interfaith Paths to Peace.
Last year’s event drew over 1,800 people following a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big Table returns this year with organizers preparing for up to 2,000 attendees.
“As a Certified Welcoming city, we are thrilled to celebrate Welcoming Month in September with exciting events like The Big Table, which brings people together from all walks of life to connect and celebrate the diversity of our community,” said Mayor Greenberg.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest potluck was attended by 3,264 people in India. While organizers for The Big Table are eventually hoping to break that record, this year’s event is focused mostly on encouraging conversation and meeting new people.
“Its purpose is to build greater community connections,” said Jud Hendrix, executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace and co-creator of The Big Table. “We hope The Big Table will spur a variety of other creative events, like civic dinners and talking circles that face issues head-on, to weave in the fabric of our community.”
A unique aspect of The Big Table is the intentionality around having conversations. “On the surface, it’s a simple potluck. The intention, however, is much deeper, hoping to create a space for Louisvillians of all beliefs and backgrounds to come together in order to connect, especially in a time when our society holds so many opposing points of view,” said Cathy Berkey, executive director and co-creator of the Big Table.
In an effort to foster more intimate conversation and depth of connection, participants will be organized into tables of eight. Table Host volunteers will help seat participants and work to ensure tables are made up of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Table Hosts will also facilitate conversation and storytelling during the event. About 250 Table Host volunteers are needed for this event.
Residents who play an instrument are invited to bring their instrument and join in a post-dinner global music jam. Pick-up music venues will be arranged along the event area to continue facilitating connections during event cleanup.
“There is no central stage; the magic of the event is in the conversations that happen at the tables,” said Berkey.
In case of inclement weather, organizers will announce alternative indoor locations by 1 p.m. on Sept. 10 via social media and the event registration page.