MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The annual Mobile International Festival turns 40 this weekend. People representing cultures from around the globe celebrated at The Grounds in West Mobile

It’s hard to make something an annual tradition — and it’s a lot harder to make sure it lasts four decades or more. But officials with the Mobile International Festival have done just that, marking 40 years of globe-trotting treats and traditions.

From food to traditional cultural clothes, it’s a cosmopolitan trip around the earth compressed into a couple of venue halls. 

Incorporated in 1983, the festival has grown from its confines in the Mobile Convention and Mobile Civic Centers. It’s been held at The Grounds in West Mobile since 2018 and bills itself as one of the longest-running festivals in the region.

“We want to show people that we are a place where we all belong and that there is only one world and only one human race,” said Executive Director Ester Aguiar. “Our mission is education.”

“I think the community work we do, working with the public libraries, the schools, is an amazing experience,” she said. “We spread a lot of kindness, a lot of good food, and everybody is eager to learn.” 

Saturday is the only day that the International Festival is open to the general public. There’s a lot more activity leading up to it, with three days reserved for school field trips for districts around the region.

It’s a taste of the world without ever having to leave the zip code. Guests sample different food, languages, art, and history from more than 70 countries. They learn about other cultures while also seeing what connects us. 

It only comes once a year and if you missed it this year, there’s always 2024.  The Festival continues until 4 Saturday afternoon.