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Festival will honor at least 20 countries

CONYERS -- Even better than the Jules Verne classic, Rockdale County residents can go around the world in a single day Saturday at St. Pius X Catholic Church's International Festival, where at least 20 countries will be represented.

The church, located at 2621 Ga. Highway 20, is hosting its second International Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and is inviting the public to join in on the day of cultural enrichment -- complete with native food dishes, free entertainment and children's activities, games and rides.

"It really does encompass the world in terms of the kinds of food that are available," event co-chairperson Cheryle Johnson said.

At least 20 different ethnic groups will be sharing their food, and the public will have the opportunity to enjoy two tastes for $1.

Johnson said the festival is in its second year and this year will have cultures "from Polynesian to Irish."

"Our church has a cross cultural group of people who attend and so it's an opportunity for people to share their cuisine and their culture from their homeland," Johnson said of the parish with more than 1,200 families.

The event kicks off with a "Parade of Nations" at 10 a.m. where participants will carry the flags from different countries that are represented.

Besides music, Johnson said scheduled entertainment includes dance and even an Apache storyteller.

"The entertainment alone is worth coming for, and it's free," Johnson said.

Presenters will also have cultural exhibits on display for the public to see real native items from their cultural background. And there will be plenty of "very colorful," native dress at the festival, Johnson added.

This year's festival theme is "Your Church, Your Family," said Johnson, who explained the value of the event.

"It's to try to bring us together while still allowing us to exhibit our differences," Johnson said, encouraging the public to make plans to join the gathering. "It's a family-friendly event that opens up borders between people who we share in the community of the church but we have backgrounds that are different."

In addition to a silent auction, attendees will have a chance to win a four-day cruise or a $1,000 gift card to BJ's Wholesale in a raffle to be held around 4 p.m. Raffle tickets are $5 and will be available up to the day of the event.

A donation of the proceeds from the event will go toward St. Vincent De Paul, one of the church's ministries that provides financial assistance to local residents in need of groceries or emergency help with electric bills.