It’s a Small World After All

August 23, 2016
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International Café

New visitors to the communities of Cumberland County quickly discover that restaurants in this area can take the guest on a virtual trip around the world. Trip Advisor lists 419 eateries in Fayetteville alone, and the top ten user-ranked recommendations include Cuban, Mediterranean, and West African cuisine. The dining options are reflective of the ethnically diverse population in this military-dense county, and for 38 years now, the communities here have been showing off their diversity at the International Folk Festival, organized by the Arts Council of Fayetteville / Cumberland County. This year’s event will be taking place September 23 – 25.

What keeps the locals and tourists returning to the three-day celebration each year? Without a doubt, the festival’s International Café is the biggest draw. With over 30 locally based cultures represented, attendees should plan on stepping out of their comfort zones and trying some recipes that have been handed down through generations. About 28 food booths lined the promenade at Festival Park for last year’s event, allowing foodies to “eat their way around the world.” At its peak, attendance in past years has exceeded 100,000 people, and these festival-goers have feasted on such unique fare as scotch eggs, kimchi and dolmades. The only real problem one might face is deciding between Vietnamese, German, or Indian food (and the list goes on).

Parade of Nations

Parade of Nations

The International Café is open Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 6:00 p.m., but the celebration kicks off Friday night with downtown Fayetteville’s 4th Friday events, centered on the theme of the festival. Saturday morning, thousands of people line the streets of downtown for the Parade of Nations—a stunning showcase of all 30+ cultures. Two new people groups joining the lineup this year are Haitian and Indonesian. Afterward, visitors make their way to Festival Park for a full afternoon of arts and cultural events. Sunday presents one last opportunity to test those taste buds and partake in the festivities.

Has talk of the festival whet your appetite? Then acquaint yourself with the official International Cuisine Trail, provided by the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB). From Thai to Jamaican, the 30 unique options on this trail are a representation of the many eateries that the locals frequent. While planning your next dining excursion here, also check out the FACVB’s Calendar of Events for the upcoming “happenings” in the greater Fayetteville area.

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