The streets of Blacksburg will soon transform into a crowded world marketplace full of international culture. The 2009 Virginia Tech International Street Fair celebrates 50 years of bringing the world to Blacksburg. The street fair is the start of International Week, April 3–9.
As one of the most lively and much anticipated events of the semester, the International Street Fair turns College Avenue into a multicultural marketplace. At decorated booths, vendors sell items such as authentic cultural dishes and traditional arts and crafts from around the world.
The fair also features live music, as well as student performances involving traditional, cultural dances. Each year, thousands of people from the surrounding communities join Virginia Tech for this event.
Early Virginia Tech international fairs were held inside, but in 1987 it became the International Street Fair. At that time, the event was moved outside to encompass more of the local community.
Don McKeon, a retired immigration advisor for the Virginia Tech Graduate School and a long-time supporter of international education, remembers some of the cold and windy April days of the international fair noting that, “Students were braving it out at their respective booths, serving food, and describing the artifacts of their countries. It was a testament to their strong commitment to represent their cultures under less-than-ideal weather conditions. In the pre-street fair days, in the ‘70s, the small international clubs would have a section of a room to show their things, and a rather sparse attendances in those early years.” Today, the International Street Fair draws as many as 10,000 attendees.
The International Street Fair is sponsored by the Cranwell International Center, a department within the Division of Student Affairs, and the Council of International Student Organizations. In the event of inclement weather, the street fair will be held inside Squires Student Center. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.
Other notable events occurring during International Week include the African Student Association showcase, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on April 3 in the Graduate Life Center auditorium. The event will highlight the various talents of the African student body at Virginia Tech.
At 6 p.m. on April 4, the healing sounds of the Turkish Sufi Mystic Music will be held at the Graduate Life Center auditorium. Latif Bolat, Turkish singer, composer, and scholar of Turkish music and folklore, creates an intimate, storytelling atmosphere through his classical, folk, and mystic music styles.
Dozens of other events, activities, movies, and lectures are planned during International Week. To view a full listing of events, visit the Council of International Student Organizations online.