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Taste the World at UM International Festival

Get ready to travel the world without leaving Missoula.

This year’s International Culture and Food Festival at The University of Montana will offer a taste of everything, from Italian pasta puttanesca to Indonesian mung bean dessert. Festivalgoers also can take in entertainment such as Polynesian and Tajik dance performances, children’s games and crafts from around the world.

With the theme “A Taste of Traditions,” the event will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 25, in the University Center. Admission costs $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 to 12.

More than 40 countries will be represented at the festival, which is organized by UM’s International Student Association and the office of Foreign Student and Scholar Services. Local ethnic organizations such as the Sons of Norway, the Japan Friendship Club of Montana, the Greek community and Sweden-Vasa Lodge also will participate.

“The international festival is a great way to share and experience the cultural diversity that exists in Missoula,” said Grecia Pacheco of Venezuela, president of the International Student Association. “The students are very motivated to organize this event largely because of the warm and receptive members of the Missoula and campus communities. We invite you all to come and share our foods and traditions.”

The festival kicks off at noon with a parade of flags, followed by the opening of the Food Bazaar and Culture Show, cultural pavilions and Children’s World.

About 20 booths at the Food Bazaar will feature authentic recipes from many different regions of the world. Booths will be located in the UC Atrium, and dishes are priced at 50 cents to $4. The food goes fast, so hungry guests are advised to show up early.

The Culture Show will offer nearly two dozen traditional performances throughout the day in the third-floor University Center Ballroom.

Located on the second floor, Children’s World will offer events and activities designed especially for kids such as fan painting, African story-telling, Japanese origami folding and games from different parts of the world. Children will be issued “passports” and are encouraged to visit various festival activities to earn prizes.

Cultural pavilions in the UC Ballroom will present literature, maps, art and photographs from individual countries, making the festival an ideal inspiration for those planning a trip abroad. A display table about the Missoula International Friendship Program will have sign-up sheets and information on how to of become a Community Friend to incoming UM international students.

On the third floor lobby of the University Center between noon and 4 p.m., MIFP also will hold a silent auction of donated international items and a special dinner with UM President Royce Engstrom and his wife, Mary, who are former Community Friends.

The UM festival will partner with campus to accept UNICEF contributions at the doors.

All are invited to participate in this unique Montana multicultural extravaganza of vibrant sights, lively sounds, exotic scents and exciting tastes in a bazaar-like atmosphere.