The International Festival being held in conjunction with the 1988 U.S. Gymnastics Trials is more than music and dance plus food, arts and crafts booths from Germany, India, Palestine, Greece and other countries.
It's an opportunity for building bridges of human understanding."The festival is something we've wanted to do for a long time and felt it was appropriate with the gymnastics trials in progress," said Catherine Owens, festival coordinator.
"Our goal is to bring people from countries of the world together in the spirit of the 1988 Olympic games," she said.
The festival continues Friday and Saturday, opening each day at noon and continuing through 10:30 p.m. at the Salt Palace plaza.
Some 13 food and 20 craft booths, along with a wide variety of free entertainment, are available at the convention center and sports arena, where the trials are also under way.
Kamal Salman, a Palestinian who emigrated with his wife, Huda, to Salt Lake City four years ago from the West Bank, said he believes the festival gives people from various nations and cultures an opportunity for better understanding.
"It is a good opportunity for the Palestinian people to be better known and better understood in Utah and the U.S.," said Kalman, who was assisting his wife and others at a food booth for the Palestine Women's Organization.
Salman, Huda, Raed Zayyat and Mohammad Jubailat, who arrived in Utah only a month ago, were preparing falafil (a vegetarian hamburger), Arabic salad and baklava for festival visitors.
Raed, 27, a second-generation member of a family who has lived in refugee camps along the Gaza Strip and Jordan, said he is happy to have resided in Salt Lake City 41/2 years.
"We love Americans. My advice (to them) is don't take America for granted. It's beautiful. Without any doubt, it's the greatest country in the world. Let's forget about politics and government and unite as human beings to develop our resources and establish a better world for everybody where we can live in peace," he said.
Franco D'Souza, president, and Melinda Johnson, secretary, of the United Nations Futurists at Salt Lake Community College, were serving Bombay pakora (a deep-fried batter of corn flour and Indian spices), tandori chicken and chutney, a sweet and sour dip, at a south plaza booth.
D'Souza, 27, who was born in Bombay and who has lived in the Middle East for 9 years, said he and Johnson are anxious for opportunities to discuss India.
"I love India and I am very proud that we can show Utahns and other visitors the many exotic, interesting aspects of the country," he said.
Mario Giannopoulous and other representatives of Greek Orthodox Community Youth were serving souvlakia (shishkebab), gyro (pita bread and strips of lamb, tomato, onion laid on a sauce of oil, cucumbers, garlic and yogurt).
And Detlef Preuer and Mike Sloan, coach of the F.C. Santos Soccer Club, were selling bratwurst, hot and cold potato salad, red cabbage and sauerkraut and other German delicacies.
The festival features a variety of arts and crafts and entertainment. The latter ranges from "Chasquis," Bolivian and Paraguayan instrumentalists and vocalists, and the "Copacabana," musicians from the Dominican Republic, Peru and Mexico, to the Brigham Young University International Folk Dancers. The folk dancers will also perform at the Seoul Olympics.
Those manning arts and craft exhibits include Jean Godfrey, president, and Oleta Kingery, of the Ukranian Art League, who will give demonstrations on Ukranian egg decorating; Annelie Shry-ock, Salt Lake City, the German art of porcelain painting; Hella Pope, Sandy, European decorative painting; and Paul Enciso, a Pueblo Indian who will display items such as hand-made moccasins and flutes, hiishii necklaces and kachina dolls.