Eating around the globe:

West End World of Food Festival

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We come from a universe of billions of people with many different interests. It is a rarity to have a place that attracts a large group of people together with one of these shared interests, but a passion we all share is our love for food. On Saturday, Sept. 15, a large community of foodies gathered in Allentown to taste foods from various cultures at the annual West End World of Food Festival.

The West End World of Food Festival was located on Liberty and 19th Streets, which is across the street from the Allentown Farmers Market and Fairgrounds. It felt like a street festival in New York City, with a large delicious variety of foods to tantalize the taste buds, from dumplings to crab cakes: it was a foodie’s dream. When you first arrive at the festival, your mouth waters as the scent of Jerkies Jamaican Barbecue and Cinnaminis’ Donuts fill your nose. The event was free for the public to attend

“There are a lot of diverse [food] options,” said Arianna Lionetti ’19, who enjoyed lunch from The Taza Truck, which specializes in Egyptian cuisine. “The spicy cauliflower is delicious!”

There were at least 15 local and non-local food vendors representing various cultures as well as face-paint artists, a framed landscape portrait vendor and other vendors alike.

“The festival is good for business and attracts a good group of people from outside [the] West End,”

said Tara Anthony, an employee of Madeline’s Baked Goods, which has two Lehigh Valley locations.

Besides the many food options, the festival included free live entertainment from the Allentown’s School of Rock, M80, Emily’s Toybox, and Large Flowerheads.

Those attendees that were 18 years or older had the opportunity to volunteer for one of the three food eating contests for a chance to win a prize, with sponsorship from local Allentown food establishments: donuts from Mary Ann Donut Kitchen, spinach balls from Wert’s Cafe and chocolate cake from Madeline’s on Liberty.

Five people (four men and one woman) competed for a gift card in the Mary Ann Donuts donut eating contest. The participants had two minutes to eat as many powdered donuts as they could. Powdered sugar painted some of the participants’ beards and shirts as the five chowed down. It was a thrilling event to watch because anything could have happened – you never know if the participants and audience members might get sick.

“This was my first time watching a donut-eating contest live and it was very interesting. I felt caught up in the moment and I was rooting for someone. Even though he didn’t win, I still thought it was a cool experience. I know I could never eat that much that fast,” said Paul Alonso ’20.

The first round of the donut eating contest ended in a tie between two gentlemen. As a tie breaker, the two men had to eat another donut, and whoever finished it first earned the title of donut-eating champion. Although they finished the donut at the same speed, a man named Dante Seals swallowed the last bit of donut first and was declared the winner.

Not only was it Seals’ first time attending this festival, it was his first time ever participating in a food eating contest. He said that it was an amazing experience.

“I did not prepare beforehand,” said Seals, “I just kept eating it and eating — it was crazy!”

Other entertainment included activities from the Allentown Civic Theater and Bodacious Caricature Drawings.

Alonso said that the experience of being able to go around and sample foods from different countries was very enriching.

“Some might think that being in a smaller city like Allentown would mean less of a chance to experience other cultures, but events like this really show how literally walking down the street can open so many international doors and allow one to get a taste of the rest of the world,” said Alonso, who enjoyed a Beef Pastelillo from Sazon De PRCP from the Puerto Rican Culture Preservation INC of The Lehigh Valley.

The festival gives Muhlenberg students an annual opportunity to eat out of the dining hall and taste a variety of cuisine that the world has to offer.

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