By Rebecca LaFlure
Killeen Daily Herald
Cultures from around the world converged Saturday during the Killeen Sister Cities' annual International Festival.
Created 15 years ago, the festival celebrates Killeen's partnership with its sister city, Osan, Korea.
But the event did not just showcase Korean culture.
Amid sounds of beating drums, roughly 1,200 people from across Texas came to the event Saturday to dance, listen to music and check out the 49 food and arts and crafts vendors.
Rows of tables lined the Killeen Community Center featuring a variety of international delicacies, from Germany to Hawaii to the Philippines.
"We're just trying to introduce our culture to people," said Victoria Gamble, owner of the Authentic Cuisine of Philippines restaurant in Killeen.
Gamble, originally from the Philippines, opened the restaurant last year to bring a taste of her culture to Central Texas. Dressed in traditional Filipino garb, Gamble served everything from more common dishes like egg rolls, to suman – a treat made from sticky rice, coconuts, sugar and banana leaves.
Lisa Humphreys, president of the board of directors for the Sister City program, said the event continues to grow.
The Killeen Sister Cities formed in 1993 under the guidance of the Killeen City Council. KSCI established a relationship with Osan, Korea, in 1996 to offer a forum for the exchange of culture, ideas and information. The program organizes a foreign exchange student program with Osan each year.
Across the room, a local family-owned business called Yulsa International Foods, It's a Family Thing dished out treats from around the world, such as German buckeye, Puerto Rican flan and Guatemalan banana bread.
"It gives people a variety of choices from different countries," said Beniga Metcalf, who's part of the five-person operation. "We went to a lot of countries when my father was in the military, so we learned how to bake all different kinds of food."
Near the end of the event, the Aloha Pomaika'i Dancers relaxed after performing a traditional hula dance.
"We're here to share our Aloha," said Linda Pahoa, the group's instructor.
The 30-member team started up a year ago and most members originally came from the islands.
"The others are Hawaiian at heart," Pahoa said.
Contact Rebecca LaFlure at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548.