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Festival of Nations set for Saturday at Bemidji State

With a diverse blend of international cuisine, performances, games and other activities, the 39th annual Festival of Nations will showcase cultures around the globe Saturday at Bemidji State University.

"It's like going around the world in four hours," said festival coordinator Hui Min Wong, a senior from Malaysia.

Festival of Nations, organized by BSU's International Student Organization, will be held from 3-7 p.m. Saturday in the Beaux Arts Ballroom at BSU. The festival's theme is "Savor the Flavor."

Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students with BSU identification and free for children younger than 12. Tickets will be available at the door. They are also available in advance on campus at the Hobson Memorial Union Information Desk and Lakeside Food Court.

Food samples will cost $1 each at the festival and some activities will cost a minimum of $1. Accessories and decorative items from around the world, as well as limited edition Festival of Nations T-shirts, will be available to purchase.

Wong said the festival introduces cultures represented at BSU and around the world by offering food samples from many countries, cultural dances and songs, a fashion show, games and activities. The festival will also include hourly drawings for prizes.

Tabitha Sze, a senior from Malaysia who will be a master of ceremonies at the festival, said it's a joy for international students to tell others about their cultures.

"We can't bring you home so we'll bring home to you," she said.

"You get a taste of what we grew up with -- our culture," added Andy Warfield, a senior from Japan.

New to the festival this year will be an exhibition on dining etiquette for different cultures.

The festival will also feature 13 food booths offering samples of international cuisine ranging from German hot potato salad to a Malaysian fried noodle dish to Swedish meatballs to Japanese sushi.

A traditional Chinese fan dance, a tae kwon do demonstration and an American Indian dance will be among the performances presented throughout the festival.

The festival will also include henna hand painting, Japanese origami, face painting and Chinese calligraphy.

Throughout the past few years, the festival has draw 500-800 people from BSU and the community.

"So we're expecting no less this year," Wong said.