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Thousands attend international food festival

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Mar 24 2013 10:55:23 PM MDT
Updated On: Mar 24 2013 10:55:49 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Sunday afternoon marked the 22nd year University of Montana international students have hosted the International Culture and Food Festival.

NBC Montana was at the festival and spoke to volunteers about why they feel the event is so important.

U of M alum Alaiza Orais says this was her third year working at the food bazaar.  She tells us it’s not just the amazing smells that fill the University Center that she loves.

“If people want to get a taste of the different cultures all over the world this would be a good place to start,” said Orais.  “People ask about the food and then how it came about and I think that having the chance to kind of educate the community is the best part.”

Orais says the festival is a great opportunity to taste foods from around the world, minus the travel.

“They can try foods from different places, there's a show upstairs for them to see what the cultural activities is in a different countries,” said Orais.  “It’s just a lot of fun.”

“I traveled from Idaho just to come back here and to do the whole thing all over again,” said food festival volunteer Kathrina Gran. 

Gran recommends a Pilipino dessert to folks who want a little taste of her home country. 

“This year the banana rolls are the pretty popular ones,” said Gran.  “Banana rolls are a very traditional snack because it's got a little bit of sugar in it to keep you going so you’re not starving until dinner.”

Orais says she's proud of her cultural heritage and even more thrilled to share it with folks in the community.

“Just letting the people know where we came from and that we definitely very proud of the food that we eat every single day,” said Orais. 

“I can't be any more excited with the rest of the groups that are here,” said Gran.  “It’s just a diverse community here at the University of Montana.”

Orais says she hopes to see even more international students next year.

“If they want their country to be made aware of here in the small town of Missoula then this would be a good opportunity for them,” she said. 

This year over 400 international students pitched in to put on the bazaar representing nearly 70 countries.