By GWEN SISSON
Joan Mylroie, one of the organizers of the 2011 International Fiesta, said she loves to see the gathering of so many people from different locations around the world.
And they all live in the Starkville-Oktibbeha County area.
"The enjoyment of the day and sharing of their cultures with each other," Mylroie said. "I love the cooperation with each other and the excitement of learning from each other."
The 21st Annual International Fiesta will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday with the "Parade of Flags" crossing the Drill Field at Mississippi State University.
"To me the start of the International Fiesta with the parade of flags crossing the drill field is a wonderful sight," Mylroie said. "The multi-colored flags and the beautiful costumes-clothing from around the world is fantastic all accompanied by the wonderful beats of Dr. Damm's percussion group."
There are 140 flags in the parade, representing the home countries of people living and working in Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
Organizers said if anyone in the community would like to be in the Parade of Flags, come to the Drill Field side of Allen Hall by 10:40 a.m. Saturday so the line up can be ready to begin at 11 a.m.
"It is fun for children and adults of all ages," Mylroie said. "We have 140 flags so there are plenty to share."
Mylroie said she thinks the highlight of the Fiesta is the entertainment.
"The variety of music and dancing is fantastic," Mylroie said. "The groups wear stunning traditional clothes to add the festive environment."
New to this year's event will be entertainers from Nepal and the KMG Dance group of Starkville will be doing a patriotic dance interpretation.
Entertainment will begin after the "Parade of Flags" and continue until 3 p.m.
But it would not be a "Fiesta" without food, and there will be vendors from all over the world on the MSU Drill Field Saturday, ready to serve at 11 a.m. Food will be served until everything is gone.
"The (food vendors) are all fantastic," Mylroie said. "Whatever kind of food you want, you can find at the Fiesta. It would be a shame to come without lunch money because the fragrance of the food is so powerfully appealing."
Food vendors will be ready to serve at 11 a.m. and will serve until their food is gone.
Lisa Dakhlallah, one of the organizers for this year's Fiesta, said this year's Fiesta is expected to have some amazing food.
This year, 18 International student organizations will have booths set up on the MSU Drill Field. Food from Mexico, Russia, the Middle East and around the world will be available at this year's event. Each organization will sell food to raise money for the individual association represented.
Dakhlallah, the former owner of Shaherazad’s Middle Eastern restaurant, will prepare a vegetarian/vegan table with foods from Palestine. Expect to enjoy hummus, stuffed grape leaves and other tasty treats.
But Dakhlallah asked that visitors not bring big bills.
"Every year, people seem to bring large bills to the Fiesta and it is too hard for the groups to make change," Dakhlallah said. "Ones and quarters are a good thing."
Ruth de la Cruz, one of the organizers for this year's event and one of the original founders of the International Fiesta, said the event has grown and is now a traditional April event in the community.
"People keep copming back year after year," De la Cruz said. "We have hundreds of 'alumni' and we get new people and audiences added to the crowd every year contributing their culture and enjoying the festivities."
De la Cruz said one thing that stands out about the 21st annual event are "happy faces with big smiles in the midst of diversity. Audiences love the cultural show, the displays, and the food; but most of all just meeting new friends from all over the world."
There are always numerous activities for children at the annual event. Children's games will run from noon until 2 p.m., with the Pinata at 1 p.m. We will have the "inflatable" for children to enjoy from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
New this year will be the Little Mr. and Miss International Fiesta competition, to coincide with the annual Mr. and Miss International Fiesta competition.
"This will attract parents and involve more children," De la Cruz said.
Also new this year are the events leading up to the Fiesta, including the exhibit at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum and the events set at MSU. The International Fiesta is sponsored by the World Neighbors Association.
The International Studies Certificate Program and the World Neighbors Association will host three exciting events leading to the International Fiesta on Saturday.
Beginning tonight, the events aim to promote cultural awareness and further the internationalization of MSU, by providing fun venues for cross-cultural interaction. All events are free and open to the public.
“Around the World in 60 Minutes”
Wednesday, March 30th 2011
6 to 8 p.m. at Coskrey Auditorium in Memorial Hall
Virtually travel the world in one night by experiencing a rich cultural immersion. MSU professors, students, and international community leaders will showcase the fascinating cultures of Jordan, Ghana, India, Nepal, Argentina, and China. Increase cultural appreciation by connecting to a global atmosphere. A special performance will feature traditional folk dances. Pizza and soft drinks will be served. Event is free for all participants and is sponsored by the World Neighbors Association. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org  for more information.
Arabic Language and Culture Seminar 2011: ‘Democracy in Motion: The Arab World Today’ by Dr. Allen Clark, on Thursday
6 to 8 p.m. at Coskrey Auditorum in Memorial Hall
Dr. Allen Clark, of the University of Mississippi, will discuss the political revolutions occurring in the Middle East, with an emphasis on the situation in Libya. This is not a merely a lecture, but rather it is an open forum where students and professors are encouraged to ask questions and discuss issues of democracy. During the event we will listen to Moammar Gadhafi as he speaks in Arabic. Moreover, we will explore the answer to the question--why is democracy spreading at this moment? An Arabic dinner will be served. The event is free and is sponsored by the World Neighbors Association. Contact email@example.com  or firstname.lastname@example.org  for more information.
‘Learning Arabic in America: Past and Present’ by Dr. Allen Clark on Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Fowlkes Auditorium (2nd floor of the Union)
Dr. Allen Clark, of the University of Mississippi, will teach an exciting introduction to the Arabic language. Learn the exotic Arabic language in a meaningful and engaging atmosphere. By the end of this session, participants will gain competency in Arabic greetings, introductions, leave takings, in addition to reading and writing seven letters. There is no charge for this course. The event is sponsored by the World Neighbors Association. Contact email@example.com  or firstname.lastname@example.org  for more information.