International Street Fair brings the globe to Athens

A walk down East Union Street on Saturday was like a walk across the globe.

The 50th anniversary of the International Street Fair brought passersby a range of senses, from the sounds of a live band and traditional music to the aromatic scents of various seasoned dishes.

This year, about 22 participating groups lined up to bring a little bit of their own culture to Athens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event was the finale to the annual International Week, hosted by Ohio University’s International Student Union.

Among the participants was ISU Secretary Isaac Owusumensah, who said the 50th anniversary brought a record attendance number for the weekly events, which included art galleries, live performances, panels and more.

The street fair kicked off with a parade of people from many nationalities who carried their flag across the bricks of Athens. Among the vendors and parade-participants were members of various OU students groups, such as the Latino Student Union, who sold out of their popular arroz con leche, a rice pudding, only a few hours into the event.

“It’s so important to expand and understand cultures outside your own,” said Eleanor Elias, an OU senior and member of the Latino Student Union. “As a Latino student, it’s so cool to see other people get involved here.”

Though the street was packed full of community members enjoying the vendors, some made their way to College Green, where colorful flags dotted the pathways. Some posed for photos with the flags or sat on the green to eat their meals, where others bounced around a slackline strung between trees and enjoyed the 70 degree weather.

The event coincided with OU’s Moms’ Weekend this year, which made for a larger crowd than usual, but it was a welcome addition, Owusumensah said.

“The street fair gives us the opportunity to meet and socialize with friends, as well as meet new people,” he said. “It’s such a colorful and unique event with so many people involved. It’s the best week of the year.”

Originally appeared on A1 of The Athens Messenger on April 9, 2019.

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