If you’ve ever wanted to taste pierogi from Poland, buy trinkets from Thailand or hear music from Mexico, then you’re in luck – because you can do all that and more at the Columbia International Festival on April 14 and 15.
“Yes, we are as diverse as many big cities,” says festival director Dr. Raj Aluri. “We don’t have 10 million people, but we have maybe 200 nationalities represented in Columbia and across South Carolina.”
Held at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, the festival will showcase the food, arts and traditions of more than 100 cultural groups represented in Columbia and all across the state. Attractions will include an international food court, fashion shows, dance performances and a bazaar full of crafts and jewelry for sale.
Here are four reasons to check out the 23rd annual Columbia International Festival.
You can taste delicious food from all over the globe
One of the best ways to learn about another culture is through its cuisine. At the festival’s International Food Court, you’ll find delicious dishes you probably already love – like Indian curries and French crepes – along with foods you’ve likely never had the chance to taste before. Try everything from the light and airy African doughnuts known as mandazi to the addictive Korean dumplings called mandu.
You’ll learn something new
Ever wondered how to fold a beautiful origami bird? Need some help using chopsticks? Curious how to introduce yourself in multiple languages? Or just want to learn about cultures different from your own? You’ll meet people from around the world who can teach you.
“We can get rid of stereotypes and misunderstandings between cultures,” says Dr. Aluri. “When people get to meet each other and get to know each other, they realize they have so much in common with one another.”
There will be tons of performances to enjoy
So many exciting styles of national dance will be on display. Be sure to check out performances by the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company, the Walhalla Bavarian Dancers, the Latin Heritage Dance Company and more.
On Saturday afternoon, the Parade of Nations will show off the traditional dress and flags from nearly 100 countries. Also on Saturday: an adult fashion show. Sunday will feature a children’s fashion show.
You’ll connect with your neighbors
“We are an immigrant nation, and we’ve never stopped being an immigrant nation,” says Dr. Aluri. “Celebrate our history and heritage, and the rich cultural diversity we have in the midlands of South Carolina.”
In Richland County alone, 90 languages are spoken. The festival offers a chance to celebrate the wonderful diversity in the Midlands and all across South Carolina.
“My goal for this event is to bring people together so that we can be one greater community,” says Dr. Aluri. “One of my other goals is for us to leave in harmony and peace with one another.”
To find out more information about the 2018 Columbia International Festival, taking place from April 14-15 at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, contact Columbia International Festival at 803-799-3452 or visit the website at CIFonline.org. Tickets cost $7 (or $5 with a coupon available at CIFonline.org/coupon). Admission is free for children 12 and under.