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Small World Festival an 'international' hit
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Khris Chung mixes a virgin daiquiri for a customer at the Coco Bongos booth. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
The local community appeared Saturday as a virtual tossed salad of ethnic groups, each one adding a distinct flavor to Liberty County during the third annual Small World Festival in downtown Hinesville.
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said Liberty County’s diversity has amazed him ever since he first campaigned for office, comparing Hinesville’s multiculturalism to that of the United Nations.
The mayor was pleased with the turnout for the festival.  The event is sponsored by the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority.
HDDA Executive Director Vicki Davis estimated about 2,500 people had attended the festival in the first two hours, and said a total of 5,000 festival-goers were expected to attend by 8 p.m., when the event wrapped up.  
“The greatest sense of achievement comes from seeing the community and its many cultures come together in one big celebration,” Davis said. “The music, the food, the market place, and most importantly the people, make the Small World Festival an event that will become an annual May destination for tourists from throughout the southeast region.”
A steady stream of people browsed the market place for arts, crafts and other merchandise and lined up for international cuisine in the food court.
Vendors included Usborne Books & More who offered an assortment of children’s books, while a number of merchants sold African accessories. Parents could buy their children puppets and clothing, and teens could find jewelry and T-shirts.
About 15 food vendors, including several local restaurants, sold all types of food, from German to Spanish to such fair favorites as funnel cakes. The Liberty County High School Baseball Boosters sold chili dogs and Cracker Jack, Little’s Seafood sold Gullah Geechee-style seafood, Our Lady of Guadalupe sold Mexican fare and the First Samoan Church of Christ offered Polynesian dishes.
Local entertainers from a number of ethnic groups performed including belly dancer Hadia, and Dominican Republic, Panamanian and Korean folk dance troops.  There also were martial arts demonstrations by the World of Martial Arts Academy of Hinesville.
“The weather has been really great,” Davis said, holding a chilled plastic bottle of water in her hand. “People don’t seem to mind the heat.”
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