Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

How to give your Festival of Faiths exhibit the WOW factor!

CIC Board vice-chair Jane Gehlhausen shared what she thinks exhibitors at the Indy Festival of Faiths can do to give their exhibit the “4 E’s”: educational, energetic, engaging, experiential.

2016 Theme:  History of Religions in Indiana

bicentennial logoThe 2016 Festival of Faiths is an official endorsed Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.  In honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial, we are asking each exhibitor at the 2016 Festival of Faiths to represent the history of their faith tradition in the world and in Indiana. We are requesting that each booth meet the following criteria:

  • Produce a one-page (at least) handout that shares a brief history of your faith tradition.
  • Describe when your faith community first arrived in the Hoosier State
  • Provide specific examples of pioneers in your religion: when did they come to Indiana, where did they settle, what did they do and how were they received, where was the first house of worship built, etc.
  • Briefly share significant milestones of your history in Indiana
  • Make your exhibit interactive! Perhaps someone could dress like and enact one of your religions pioneers. Can you build a model of the first house of worship? Is there a list of fun facts about the beauty and challenges during the early days? Use your imagination and creativity.

Ideally, each exhibit will have common information that they can share about their religious history in Indiana. This information could be turned into a book that would be a shared resource for all Hoosiers to learn more about the diverse faith traditions that call Indiana their home.

Our goal is to increase understanding and religious literacy by looking through the lens of history and sharing our unique but common story about the religious history of Indiana!

Just standing at your exhibit can make it more inviting and engaging

Just standing at your exhibit can make it more inviting and engaging

Good Representation: Include multiple congregations (ie. churches/temples/synagogue/etc.) so you end up with a large space involving many individuals from the entire faith community. This provides an opportunity for individuals in the same faith community to meet each other and reflects enthusiasm from your community.

Lots of written material, but it's in the way of the people at the exhibit

Lots of written material, but it’s in the way of the people at the exhibit

Interactive activity. This is critical. Frankly, it is dull and boring (for both you and the festival goer) if there are only informational materials and no activity. Providing an experiential opportunity results in a successful festival!

Brainstorm with your planning group something unique to your faith.

A Great idea might be a Trivia Game Board / Trivia Wheel / Card Match. Provide a Q & A of the most significant aspects of your faith.

Everyone's a winner with interactive trivia games

Everyone’s a winner with interactive trivia games

How about Music? (Teach a prayer, chant, meditation methods, song, etc.)

Demonstrate specific prayer methods (Teach them bowing, making a sign of the cross, etc.)

Who wouldn't want to come into this exhibit?

Who wouldn’t want to come into this exhibit?

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Show your tradition’s clothing In a respectful way, e.g. provide folks an opportunity to try on a turban, hijab, etc.

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Photo Ops! Have a cut–‐out of an iconic person of your faith (ie. A Pope, Ghandi, etc.) they can take a photo with.

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Big Board: Have a large black board/paper that folks can write something on. (ie. The most interesting thing they learned, a prayer, etc.)


Favorite Prayers – List the most popular verses from your holy books and ask folks to indicate which one they connect to the most and why.

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Faith Activities – Teach them your rituals, (ie. Using Catholics/Christians as an example: washing feet, showing how we use ashes, holy water, baptism with water, etc.)

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“Ask me!” It’s a great way to start a conversation

Create a worship space – (Such as Hindu Temple or Buddhist shrine, etc.)

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Educational: Be sure it is educational so festival goers learn!

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Faith Materials: Include materials such as books, icons, religious wear, prayer items, etc.


Resources: Jane Gehlhausen, Vice Chair, CIC BOD, FOF Event Chair Year 1 – 3,;

Phil Cleveland: Logistics Chair,;

Charlie Wiles: CIC Executive Director,



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