According to Dictionary.com, a community is thus: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
This past Saturday was a celebration of that very idea here in Gwangju, thanks to the much-anticipated International Community Day. This year's event was held at the Kim Dae Jung Convention Center, which coincided with the Gwangju International Food Expo. Upon arriving at the center, you could register with the GIC information booth and receive a ticket to the food expo. This definitely came in handy.
A large stage set up in the middle of the festivities offered various cultural performances throughout the day for attendees to enjoy. There was an art station where people could try their hand at various projects with the volunteer artists available. Nearby were people waiting to help you into a hanbok so you could take a photo souvenir for 500 won.
One of the big draws of the festival is the food! There was no shortage of options to tickle your taste buds: Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Thai, and Nigerian were among the various countries in attendance. For very reasonable prices you could pick and choose what you wanted to sample for lunch. I enjoyed the hummus with pita bread and veggies and rice pudding from Greece, as well as the mac and cheese from the North American stand.
After hanging out at the festival for a while, I decided to head inside to see what the Food Expo had to offer. Front and center in the expo hall was a booth advertising the Kimchi Festival, with several ladies making different types for passersby to sample. This was a very popular booth.
I walked around, checking out the various booths from both all over and outside of Korea, seeing what they were promoting. A really cool exhibit on the right focused on the salt fields in Korea, where they harvest natural sea salt. Not only could you learn about the process, they had candle making and manicures utilizing the salt. There were also free samples of salt-based products to be had.
Along the back side of the expo hall was a grand display of Korean foods. There had been a cooking competition earlier in the expo, and here you could see all of the chefs' hard work. The most popular area was definitely the bakery section. Here people crowded in line to sample bread fresh out of the oven, and you could buy whole loaves for just a dollar. With the intoxicating smell that grabbed you and pulled you in, how could you resist? There was a cake decorating station set up in the bakery area where children and adults alike were getting hands-on confectionery experience. After you finished, you could take your cake home with you.
Past here was a dazzling display of breads, cakes, cookies, and miscellaneous delights. The sheer sugar count was enough to send someone into shock. For me, the most impressive sight was the giant replica of the Eiffel Tower made of sugar. I have no idea how long it took to make that but it was grand.
It was a great day for a foodie like me. I enjoyed getting to see and sample many delicious items, as well as watching the shows and the international community come together in celebration.