The night is finally here. More than 1,000 people of all races, creeds and lifestyles will come together tonight under one roof for the Festival of United Cultures. The Racial Diversity Forum has spent months putting together the event as a way to break down the racial and cultural barriers which many say exist in Huntsville.

“The whole purpose of this is to bring the community together, to live and play together, without racism,” said Mary Novark, who has been in charge of the festival committee.

As people enter the fairground’s main building, there will be name tags and boxes for donations. Food tables will be set up to the right, dining tables will be in the middle of the room and cultural displays and information booths will be over to the left.

The dinner, though, will not be the typical pot-luck dinner. In addition to the food of many different cultural backgrounds, there will be plenty of entertainment, with cultural music and dance performances,

Jon Boaz, a Huntsville native and news anchor at KBTX Channel 3 in College Station, will serve as the event’s emcee, and Greg Gathright will video record the event.

The festival is very much a community event, Novark said, as many different companies and organizations have contributed to put the dinner together.

When people come in, the event’s planners are hoping to take people a little bit out of their comfort zone and have them sit with people they may have never gotten to meet otherwise.

“We want to get people separated,” she said. “It’s just like when you go to church, most people sit in the same spot, but we want them to interact with various different cultures. That’s the whole purpose of this.”

While free tickets have been handed out for the event, everyone will be admitted, regardless of whether or not they have one.

The festival will begin at 6 p.m. at the Walker County Fairgrounds and the best part: It’s all free.

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