As a 6-year-old, Anna Krumpholz used to dance with other children from St. Basil’s Greek Orthodox Church at the Albany Festival of Nations.
Forty years later, she now watches her daughter perform the same dance routines. Krumpholz explains that while the event has grown over the years, she still loves tasting food from all over the world and seeing the beautiful native garb that people wear.
“This is a really great event,” said the Clifton Park resident, seated behind a table selling Greek bracelets and necklaces. “So often people are stuck inside their own respective cultural boxes and it really allows people a chance to break out of that.”
Thousands of people filled the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Sunday for the 43rd edition of the Albany Festival of Nations. They watched performances by adults and children representing 23 different countries.
Monjoo Yang, director of Master Yang’s Martial Arts Center in Latham, led a group of about 15 teenagers in a performance.
She said she heard a number of “ooh’s” and “ah’s” from the crowd during the routine.
“Just in our group we have such a mix of kids from all different backgrounds,” Yang said. “This event is great because it shows what a melting pot the Capital District really is.”
Vendors stationed outside of the convention center were selling dishes of hot and cold food.
Dennis O’Leary of Albany said he came to the festival just to get some food that he wouldn’t normally eat. He said he was sampling food from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
“I don’t really know where I would get this kind of food,” he said, while munching on an empanada. “This stuff is amazing.”
Carlos Hemenegildo of Schenectady was selling goods brought over from the Dominican Republic. He said people a lot of people visited the booth throughout the day and seemed interested in the items.
“Its going really well,” said Hemenegildo, who has been attending the event for the last 10 years. “Look at all these people that came out to experience firsthand the diversity in our region.”
Ayaz Malik, who has been in charge of organizing the event since 1974, said there were more booths and vendors at the festival this year than ever before. He said he was encouraged by how much people seemed to be enjoying the performances and the food that was being offered.
“This is the biggest festival yet,” he said. “There are a lot of people here and they all seem to be having a really good time while enjoying food and dance from all over the world. So many people that aren’t from the United States come here to experience a taste of their native lands and we are happy to be able to provide that to them.”
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