If you would like to travel the world but lack the time and money, you can visit 70 countries without leaving Alabama.

Going to the Mobile International Festival on Saturday, November 18 will give you a sense of the peoples and cultures of the world that have made their way to live in Alabama.

You can experience the dress, food, music, dance, art, crafts, languages and exotic merchandise of the 70 countries, all of which have a presence in Mobile.

The theme of the festival is “Your passport to adventure.”

Mobile is a multi-cultural community, a cosmopolitan city. These peoples and cultures from afar, now American folk and Alabama folk, showcase their roots at the Mobile Fairgrounds, “The Grounds.” 1035 Cody Road North, Mobile.

There are two reasons for Mobile’s international flavor. One, Mobile is Alabama’s port city, with international commerce daily. Some of those international trading partners have built offices and homes in the Port City.

Two, Mobile’s history and heritage have strong influences of our forebears from France, Spain, Mexico, Greece, Africa, Italy, Lebanon, Germany, Ireland, Vietnam, South Korea, the Far East, the Caribbean and others. 70 in all.

Details on the 2023 festival are here.

Tickets can be ordered online or purchased at the gate.

Prices are: Students, $5. Senior citizens, $11. Adults (12 and over), $12.

This year’s fest will be a huge 40th birthday party, the 40th annual Mobile International Festival. Celebrants will come from the 70 countries, all now living right here in Alabama. You are invited.

The fest has operated annually since 1983 and is believed to be the longest-running festival on the Gulf Coast. The fest not only provides the general public with a taste of the international scene but also educates Alabama students. On the Thursday and Friday before the public festival, busloads of students experience the festival’s offerings. Many call it the favorite field trip of their school time. What a way to study geography.

There is a stage with dancers and musicians from many cultures, including Irish folk dancers, Japanese kettle drummers and exotic belly dance groups.

Each country has a display, usually a table or booth, with food or items of their culture. Alabama folks from each heritage accompany the table of their origin. Everyday Alabama folks who live and work among us go back for a day to their “mother country.” We can go with them for a quick visit.

Jim Zeigler is former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor.  You can reach him for comments at ZeiglerElderCare@yahoo.com.

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