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Get Out of Town, | May 01, 2017

A Weekend at the Expo

Diversity is big in this Southern Indiana city

Robert N. Stewart Bridge./Courtesy photo by David Mark

The sound of bagpipes fuse with the smell of sugary sweets and drifts through the streets of downtown Columbus. If you listen closely you can hear dancing feet tapping the stage and food hissing as it hits the hot grill.

Each year, for two days in the month of October, nearly 35,000 visitors come to Columbus’ Ethnic Expo to feast on delicious food, listen to music from all around the world and immerse themselves in different cultures.

Ask almost any Expo regular, and they’ll tell you five things you must do during your first visit.

Start the day off right

Get to the Expo early to see dozens of floats glide through the streets of downtown. “I walked in it when I was a kid and just seeing all the different floats from different places helps give you a glimpse into cultures from around the world,” says Katie Hanson, 24. Don’t forget to grab a few lawn chairs, blankets and treat bags for your little ones so they can stock up on candy and trinkets given out during the parade.

Eat until your heart’s content

The food options are nearly endless. Walk along the line of booths and take in the mouthwatering smell of savory chicken on a stick from Vietnam, sugary-sweet lemon shake-ups from Italy and spicy samosas from India. “I always go to the German stand to get a bierock,” says Expo regular, Aaron Barker, 22. “They’re basically a pocket sandwich with hamburger, sauerkraut and onions.” Debra Putnam, 59, says that she has made it an annual tradition to go for the eggrolls. “They have all different kinds, some with meat, some with veggies,” she says.

Walk it off

Once your belly is full, walk it off at the craft booths where you can purchase artwork, handcrafted clothing and ornate jewelry while the little ones, or the young at heart, have their faces painted and try out their handcrafted maracas and flutes.

Go back for seconds… or thirds

Now that you’ve walked off your first dinner, it’s time to stop by the dessert booth. Feast your eyes on the mountain of moist chocolate cakes, creamy peanut butter pies and bittersweet lemon squares.

Finish strong

Head to the top of a nearby parking garage or grab a seat and a drink in the Biergarten and enjoy one of the best firework shows in the region.

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