Culture takes center stage at Raleigh international festival
Posted September 20, 2014 8:45 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2014 10:35 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Thousands are expected to attend the International Festival of Raleigh at the Raleigh Convention Center this weekend, but one thing absent from the 29th annual event was the global conflicts that dominate news headlines.
“We’re here to show you that we’re like everybody else,” said Nazi Kite, who is from Iran and was presenting Iranian food, fine art and Persian calligraphy. “We have a very rich culture. We are peaceful people.”
From cooking demonstrations and cultural exhibits to a world bazaar and performances, the festival allows visitors to see the best of various cultures from around the world. The event also includes a naturalization ceremony, where 221 people from 78 countries became U.S. citizens on Friday.
“We want to educate the public about the best that the world has to offer,” said Melissa Driver Beard, festival spokesperson. ““We all have much more in common than otherwise, and this gives us a chance to come together.”
At the Ukraine booth, Volodymyr Dorosh wanted people to know that his country is not solely defined by its ongoing conflict with Russia.
“And as bad as the situation is, the silver lining is that people now know the difference between Ukraine and Russia,” said Dorosh, who left the country at 9-years-old but visits every year. “And I’d like to underscore that with our beautiful scenery.”
Russia, a few booths down, displayed an array of Matryoshka dolls.
"We were supposed to have another booth, but Russians took that from us,” Dorosh joked. “They annexed that part, ha, ha."
John Sprague, who manned the Scotland booth, was constantly asked whether his homeland should separate from Great Britain.
“I don’t really have a dog in that hunt,” he said
The festival concludes on Sunday. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for senior citizens and children.