Buffalo Without Borders
A celebration of diversity
Buffalo Without Borders is an annual celebration and recognition of the vibrancy that New Americans bring to Western New York, realized through food, music, dance and the sharing of cultural heritage. The premier fundraising event for the International Institute of Buffalo, Buffalo Without Borders has been delighting attendees with support from 19 IDEAS since 2013. Local food vendors and restaurateurs specializing in ethnic cuisines are invited to gather together, set up stations and share their fare for one special night. Guests spend a delightful evening tasting their way around the event as performers from around the world dance, play and sing in a series of performances, while attendees can also shop from local immigrant and refugee retailers at the Buffalo Without Borders Bazaar.
Event program: cover illustration and layout
The event’s collateral centerpiece comes in the form of the annual program. Each year, the program’s cover design offers an opportunity to uniquely represent the International Institute and the cultural heritage it celebrates every day — from the execution of its mission, vision and values to daily interactions with staff and volunteers.
Creating an interactive guest experience
To create a true cultural and culinary journey for guests each year, we design a centerfold map of the event space in the program book. Attendees are then invited to collect custom-designed “passport stamps” throughout the evening. Food vendors stamp their corresponding “passport” spot on each guest’s map, and patrons fill in their maps as they make their way from station to station. We take visual references from each country or culture into consideration to make each stamp unique.
Our team introduced the passport concept to Buffalo Without Borders in 2013 as part of our event-enhancement recommendations. The map and stamps make the event engaging and interactive for guests while providing an important in-hand reference for attendees to navigate the event space and choose the order in which they want to visit vendors. Each guest is invited to stop at each food station once so they can have their map stamped, making the passport an effective, logistical tool for stamping vendors to ration portions over the course of the night.
Seeing it through with signage
To further enhance the theme of the event, we developed signage for all food-vendor booths, countertop displays, auction items and wayfinding points. The vendor signage references the culture represented at each food stand and coordinates with the event map to help guests orient themselves in the venue’s fluid, open environment.
As part of the event update in 2014, we created reusable booths and themed signage for each vendor. Design templates are utilized to create signage for new vendors as they are added to the event program.
The Map for Adventurous Eaters
The Map for Adventurous Eaters is updated annually and distributed first to event guests and then throughout the community. The map lists local immigrant- and refugee-owned restaurants and businesses across Western New York, encouraging year-round cultural exploration that goes beyond the International Institute’s one-night event.
The Map is a fluid piece that needs to be updated as businesses open, move or close down. Our team has created a flexible design that allows us to update the map easily for each Buffalo Without Borders event.
Passport to the future
The International Institute of Buffalo has been a part of the Western New York community for more than 100 years. Their significant history and presence in the community positions them to host a top-tier annual fundraising event in the City of Buffalo.
Buffalo Without Borders is beloved by long-time donors, staff and stakeholders, and also offers an important look towards the future of the International Institute, raising awareness about the good work the organization does with new audiences and younger members of the community. It’s a celebration and recognition of international culture in our community that is unmatched in the Western New York region.