By Alexis Lee, News Writer
Rolla showcased its seventh annual Celebration of Nations this past Saturday, September 24. The area’s largest multicultural event was kicked off at 11:00 a.m. by a vibrant parade featuring various cultural groups. Spectators ranging from travelers to area residents and Missouri University of Science and Technology students lined the streets of Rolla’s downtown district as the festive day of food, arts and crafts, music, dance, and great food began.
With over eighty different countries represented at the event, a dull moment could not be found. Celebration of Nations featured a talent contest at the Rolla Band Shell following the parade, and exhibits and booths flooded the area. The combination of events were fun for the whole family. Kids could even get a “passport” and travel to all of the countries. When they were not too busy “traveling,” they could try some new food, play on inflatables with their friends, get their faces painted, or even take a camel ride! There are also ongoing contests, such as the photography and video contests. The photograph must be at least 300 dpi or 5 megapixels, and the video is limited to five minutes in length. Entries should capture community pride, sharing of culture, and celebration of Rolla’s diversity. Submissions for all entries are to be sent to email@example.com. Prizes will be given to the top three contestants.
Overall, there was a lot of participation among the community making the celebration’s seventh consecutive year another huge success. The cultural food was among the favorite attributes of the celebration. The various booths were lined up across the parking lots to offer the guests a taste of their culture. A Missouri S&T alumnus, Nathan VanDomelen, mentioned after experiencing freshly brewed Ethiopian coffee, “It was nice to not only experience the coffee but also to have the opportunity to sit with the person who made it and get to know the way things are done differently than we do here.” Comparing the opposition of buying coffee from a store or restaurant and leaving directly after payment, he continued to say, “Moments like these are often missed. It was nice immersing myself into the culture.” In addition to the cuisine, the traditional dancing, music, and dress were also huge hits at the event. Jacob Bautista, a Missouri S&T student, stated, “Rolla is probably the most diverse cultural hub in the state of Missouri, and I think an event where we can bring all these different people and experiences together is an awesome way to promote cultural awareness and unity.”
Celebration of Nations, themed “One Campus, One Community, One Word,” was initiated back in 2010 to celebrate the culture within the Rolla community. The event was meant to bring people of different backgrounds together and share a piece of themselves. Moments like these can make one proud to see the “Melting Pot” flourish in its uniqueness and diversity even in the midst of the Ozarks.