Way back in the Reagan years, when it first started out, the Festival of Communities could have still had East German representation in its international offerings. Though we're back to just the one Germany now, the festival, which marks its 30th anniversary this year, is as fresh as it was in 1987.
This year, the festival will see about 60 booths and an estimated 6,000-7,000 people on Saturday afternoon from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the academic mall. Last year’s turnout was around 5,000, but organizers are expecting even more based on early interest.
And why wouldn’t they? The festival celebrates everything UNLV has to offer, with more than 40 student organizations taking part, from the Residence Hall Association to the International Council to the Turkish Student Association.
“[Habesha Student Association is a] group is specifically geared toward students who identify as Ethopian or from specific African countries,” Zainub Cementwala, program coordinator for international student programs and festival organizer said. “I'm very excited to be having them here this year. They're a new organization, and this is their first year of participating.”
Plenty of groups will be selling food, using that as a means of fundraising. Others will be performing, and a handful of artists and vendors from the community will be on hand.
This year, there are $500 prizes up for grabs for Best Interaction, Best Decoration, Best Plate, Best Bite, Best Dessert, and the People’s Choice. An EcoZone will feature student and local groups focused on sustainability and environmental awareness, and this year will see an increased presence from the Clark County School District, which gets its own booth this year.
“All of the money you spend goes back to the students,” Cementwala said. “If you're going to spend your Saturday out anyway, why not come to UNLV, have a good time, enjoy the performances, get some food? You might actually learn something along the way.”