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ODU International Festival Returns to the Ted Constant Convocation Center on April 7

International Festival Dancer

Take a trip around the world while learning about the rich multicultural fabric that binds neighbors, co-workers, classmates, friends and acquaintances right here in Hampton Roads.

The pageantry and rich traditions of our diverse community will be on full display Sunday, April 7, when Old Dominion University hosts the fifth annual International Festival at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The popular family-friendly event's master of ceremonies this year is Hugh Copeland, founder and artistic director of the Hurrah Players theater group.

The festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. at the Constant Center, located at 4320 Hampton Blvd. It is free and open to the public. Parking will also be provided in adjacent garages at no charge.

Attendees will be treated to a bazaar-like marketplace, international food vendors, cultural performances, educational displays and an exciting grand finale with a global fashion show featuring more than 100 participants modeling clothing from 18 countries and Zumba dancing. Event attractions also include children's cultural activities, arts and crafts, a small animal petting zoo and a display of various countries' flags provided by People to People International's Hampton Roads Student Chapter.

Performances on center stage throughout the day will capture audience attention with the music and dances of the Caribbean, Greece, Africa, the United Kingdom, India, Spain, Russia, Polynesia, the Middle East, South America, Bangladesh and New Zealand, along with the United States' own homegrown varieties.

More than 900 ODU students - many with international backgrounds - from 57 organizations are participating in the 2013 International Festival. Students will lead child-oriented craft activities throughout the main arena, representing the North and South American continents, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Africa.

An educational zone featuring interactive, child-friendly stations spanning the continents will be staffed by representatives of community organizations as well as local schools and agencies. The university's Recreation and Wellness program will get young participants moving with physical activities designed to take them on an around-the-world journey.

The wonder of discovery continues at the International Bazaar, where a diverse array of items will be available for purchase and visitors can mingle with merchants displaying jewelry, clothing and crafts from around the world. Local restaurant vendors including, the Grapevine Restaurant (Greek), India Palace Restaurant (Indian), Bilu's Bakery (Colombian), Mayflower Café (Turkish), Caribbean Castle (Caribbean) and Baladi Mediterranean Café (Mediterranean) will satisfy even the most discerning palate at family-friendly prices.

Because no festival is complete without animals, The Teeny Tiny Farm (of Elberon, Va.) will provide an outdoor petting zoo featuring bunnies, goats, ducks and miniature varieties of a horse, cow, pig, llama and alpaca.

ODU's official partners for the 2013 International Festival include: Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach public school systems; the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority; the Hampton Roads Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and the City of Norfolk Department of Recreation, Parks & Open Space.

For more information, go to http://studentaffairs.odu.edu/oir/programs/intfestival/.