Mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 29, when downtown Rolla comes alive for the third annual Celebration of Nations. This year’s highlights include performances by the Caribbean-style steel drum Banana Oil Pan Band and the Springfield Kiltie Band on bagpipes. Five-dollar camel rides will also be available and cameras are welcome.
The Parade of Nations that begins at 11 a.m. will follow an non-traditional route this year. Launching from Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Havener Center, the parade will go down State Street to 11th Street, then east to Pine Street. For safety reasons, organizers streamlined the parade route by electing to go south on Pine Street (against traffic), then turn east on 8th Street to the Rolla Band Shell. The parade includes international floats, marching bands, animals and colorful flags representing the more than 80 countries of origin of area residents and Missouri S&T students.
The festival that follows the parade offers international arts and crafts for sale that would make unique gifts for the holidays. You’ll find crafts or food from Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina, China, France, Greece, India, Jamaica, Laos, Latin America, the Philippines, and right here in the Ozarks. The Banana Oil Pan Band will give a steel drum demonstration at the festival following its 12:15 p.m. performance at the band shell. There will even be a ping pong tournament. Check the website for a schedule of events.
While you check out the authentic cultural displays, children can get their “passports” stamped by the countries’ representatives. Passports are being distributed at area schools and will be available at the festival’s “passport booth,” one passport per child. In additional to camel rides, children’s activities include inflatables, face-painting and more.
Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to watch the free performances at the band shell that run until the festival ends at 4 p.m. The popular “International Idol” talent competition begins around 1 p.m.
Celebration of Nations was created in 2010 as an opportunity for area residents and Missouri S&T students to share their heritage and celebrate the cultural diversity that exists in the area. It continues to grow every year due to outstanding participation from the community, sponsors and the city of Rolla.