Global culture fest Saturday

HOUGHTON — In the Copper Country, traveling the globe can be as easy as stepping out the door during the annual multicultural festival hosted by Michigan Tech.

Find a good spot to watch the Parade of Nations and even moving might not be needed.

The 2018 festival, “Global Beats, International Treats,” will be held Saturday and marks the 29th in a long history.

Featuring traditional foods and dress from cultures around the globe and prizes and performances, there is something for everyone, including hot dogs for less-adventurous attendees.

Everything starts with the parade at 11 a.m. and steps through Hancock and Houghton, with 60-70 nations represented.

“It’s a fun sight, and in the moment, it’s really easy to catch the energy of the Parade of Nations,” said parade co-chairwoman Briana Tucker.

The “I love Parade of Nations” raffle continues this year. Entering is as easy as making a sign and holding it during the parade. Winners of a trip to Chicago must be present at the Dee for the 1 p.m. drawing.

The festival begins at 12 p.m. and runs until 3 p.m. at Dee Stadium. Among 30 food and craft booths, 21 or more of them will be serving international food.

Funds raised help support student organizations. Offerings from community restaurants will be available alongside traditional fare.

New this year will be traditional crafts like boomerangs, Mexican God’s eye and origami. All ages are welcome and participation is free.

Organizer Bob Wenc has been involved with the parade for 28 years and remembers the year elephants participated in the parade.

“The elephants were marching in the parade, and they got to the bridge and they did not like that there was an overhang. They had a hell of a time getting them to go across that bridge,” Wenc said.

Deborah Mann, chairwoman for stage acts, recalled operating an Italian booth that included a jar of noodles for attendees to guess the number. Tech engineering students quickly found the jar.

“It was the most bizarre thing, watching them measure and count and flip it around and they would be there for 20 minutes looking at this jar figuring (it) out,” she said.

One student was able to get within five noodles of the number.

The festival depends on support and donations from local businesses, including some larger contributions from national companies, said chairwoman Vienna Chapin.

“It makes me so proud of this community,” said Wenc. “You’ll see the kids and other people walking down the street, smiles back and forth and they applaud each group as they come through. I know if I were an international student and was in the parade and was appreciated by the local population like that, I would feel so good about this place.”