Beautiful weather and a curious taste for ethnic food drew crowds to The Taste of N.C. State, a showcase of foods from cultural organizations across campus Friday afternoon. It was a good excuse for many students to get some fresh air and stroll along the grassy terrain of Harris Field. The event, sponsored by the Diversity Committee of the Union Activities Board and Campus Recreation, was advertised as the “biggest diversity event at N.C. State” by Paula Hagan, a junior in communication and the UAB Diversity chair.

True to its name, the event was wildly popular on Facebook and had a successful turnout; so successful, in fact, that most of the food was gone an hour after the event started. Masses lined up to the volunteers who were serving American staples like pizza, hot dogs and fried chicken, among a number of cultural foods.

“I [have] never had Ethiopian [food] before,” said Abby Rife, freshman in animal science, in between bites of soft spongy bread with meat filling. “The meat works really well with the spices.”¬† Rife further noted that she has tried many dishes from other countries, including fried spicy dough from Pakistan.

The Asian Students Association handed out dumplings, while the Hmong Students Association served cups of a tapioca pearl drink, a delightful sweet concoction of coconut milk, mixed fruit, and tapioca beads that tasted like a cross between yogurt and a smoothie. The Latin dance team, Sube Ritmo, even provided a cake, though it was quickly depleted.

In addition to student organizations, city vendors set up stands to show their support for the pack. Moe’s Southwest Grill provided a wealth of chips and salsa, while vendors from Amedeo’s Italian Restaurant served trays of lasagna and pasta. Cueva de Lobos, a local Mexican eatery, provided quesadillas, chicken, and bacon wraps. The event provided a pleasing atmosphere for all students from all backgrounds and ideals to unite over sated stomachs.

While the food drew crowds, students stayed for the performances from a number of cultural groups. Sube Ritmo and Fusion Dance Team, the hip-hop cultural dance team, both had the audience fired up.

The C.I.A., or Comedy in Action improvisational comedy group, invited audience members to act out a sketch involving Italian sausage and a dating game show. One of the contestants made it clear he was the Hulk by implicating that his “idea of [a] perfect evening” consisted of “staying at home and not getting angry,” he huffed. Above the field, on the top level of Witherspoon Cultural Center, DJ Cutta spun the turntables and blasted hits from Beyonc√© and T-Pain. Students were provided with constant entertainment that also included free henna tattoos and caricatures.

The African Student Union delivered one of the most engaging performances of the event. Members welcomed everyone to “celebrate the diversity and beauty of African-American culture” and recounted the origins behind gumboot dancing. Back when slaves worked the mines, the gumboot dancers explained, the poor drainage system made workers sick, but instead of repairing the system, the mine owners bought gum boots for all the workers. The slaves could not speak to each other, so they communicated by slapping and stomping their boots, and in their spare time they would make up dances. They continued to step in tune to the beat of their own rhythm.

Will Murphy, sophomore in English education, considered the gum boot dance his favorite part of The Taste of N.C. State. “I could better understand the reason behind stepping, and how it came to be integrated in African-American culture,” he said.

Students like Murphy were able to partake in a cultural experience that encompassed the breadth of the university. Food, fun, and diversity: this is what N.C. State is about.