When one arrives at the site of any festival, they are met with a wave of stimulation. There are so many sights, smells, people, music, and voices coming from every direction. When you visit some vendors, you may hear the tinkling from wind chimes made of blown glass. The banners and flags wave in neat rows as a breeze blows through the aisles of tents.

With those gusts come the smells of gyros, pastries, chicken on a spit, and beer. If you’re walking by the tent offering coffee brewed in a small tin pot and poured directly into your cup, you will experience the fragrance of a bold roast so intense, it’ll curl your nose hairs with one sip. It entices you to wander over for a closer look, tempting you to have a taste.

Each shop has an array of goods. You’ll find artisan soaps and clothing, gorgeous dishware and jewelry. The vendors are friendly, and not just because they want your business. They are happy to engage you in a conversation about their culture and the effect it has on their beliefs. Some are immigrants, straight from Greece, and you can hear the longing for their former home as they tell you stories of where they grew up and the differences between life in Greece and life in their new home of Georgia.

Compared to the festival on the outskirts of Atlanta, this one is much smaller but far more intimate. Thanks to the smaller size, you can relax and talk with those working the event. Some may compare it to a family reunion rather than a festival geared towards all of Central Georgia.

When you grab your lunch and make for the dining tent, there’s a stage set up at the front, hosting dancers and musicians that treat listeners and viewers to traditional music and group dances. It’s fun and quick beat leaves you tapping your feet or maybe even clapping along.

One of the best parts of the festival is the food. They have a selection of dishes to choose from; you could order a (lamb meat) Gyro or slow roasted chicken. There’s also an array of beers, for anyone who wants something different.

When it comes down to the favorite of most visitors, the pastries take the cake.. Baklava is the most known, a nut and honey treat that ends in licking fingers clean of the sticky, flaky sweetness. Kataifi is another pastry and looks like spaghetti noodles wrapped around the filling, or maybe a gigantic Wheat Bite. Walnuts, ground cloves, cinnamon, and lemon scented syrup are bundled in the Kataifi dough and covered with even more syrup for good measure.

Cultural festivals are a learning experience. Go to Greek Fest, the Atlanta Francophonie Festival, JapanFest, Pride, Stone Mountain’s Highland Games, art festivals and others. The point of them is to learn something new about different cultures. Understanding one another is one of the greatest ways we can reach peace. These festivals may not be perfect examples, but it’s a start in the right direction.

Plus, the food is always fantastic.

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Author: The Bent Tree

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