TROY — Why rack up airline charges when you can tour the world on the levee?
On Saturday, for the 22nd year, the Festival of Nations honored more than 15 nations, giving residents of Troy and Miami County the opportunity to experience other cultures through interactive booths and displays, food, dance, music, story-telling and arts and crafts.
The featured country this year was China. Chinese delegate Joey explained how China is not just one nation.
“It is 56 ethnic groups, and the biggest one which we call Chinese is everyone united,” she said. “There is a very long history of our country — 6,000 years — so to see the different combination of our ethnic groups live together.”
The Chinese display also included photos of the festivals in China and the symbols that come with them, such as the dancing dragon for good luck and the water festival.
One of the most important festivals in the Singing Festival in March, which incorporates a romantic tradition in it.
Joey explained young men and women attend the festival together, where the women hold an ornament called a token of love in their hands.
“The girls are looking for a husband, looking for marriage, looking for a very steady relationship,” she said. “During the singing festival the girls will sing a song and in the song they pose a question, so the guy is going to answer the question through singing the song.”
Once the individual woman finds the man who answers the question to her liking, she throws the token of love to him. Once he catches it, the love story and relationship begin.
Sue Reddy of the Italian booth said she and the other women in charge — Joyce Burt, Glenna Rinehart and Kay Kaednick — had worked together to make traditional Italian treats.
“I made the pizzelles with anise, while Kay made the biscotti,” she said. “Glenna and Joyce made the MMs and almond biscotti. We actually sold out last year, that’s how popular they were.”
At the Nicaragua booth, the delegation was giving out samples of gallo pinto, Nacaraguan coffee and tea. The group also offered information about the Project Chacocente Sponsorship to help Chacocente Christian School in Masaya and Tesoros de Dios, a Managua-based organization that helps children with developmental disabilities.
Omar Hernandez, shared how Nicaragua was a developing country of 7 million people and is roughly the size of Ohio. Pottery was on display, as a nod to the indigenous culture.
“It has been inherited for hundreds of years,” he said. “They get the dirt from a certain area, and they make the vessels and bake it in an oven. It takes about a month to get one piece ready, so for all of the pieces they make, they have to do it ahead of time to sell it.”
Photo albums of Nicaragua’s landscape were also present. Hernandez said Nicaragua was home to one of five active volcanoes left in the world, Masaya Volcano.
“It probably sounds like a bad term, but they call it The Mouth of Hell, and it’s one of the most active places in the world,” he said.
Some of the other nations honored at the festival included Argentina, Honduras, France, Germany, Philippines, Panama, Peru, Japan, Scotland and Ukraine.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at email@example.com or on Twitter @Troydailynews.