The International Food Festival Returns


After five years, the Food Festival is back for its 20th outing this August

Hope you’re hungry, because two dozen different countries are lining up to feed you this August! Knoxville’s International Food Festival hasn’t been seen since before the pandemic, but this year the Festival is making its return to World’s Fair Park on August 19.

The International Food Festival is a fundraiser for Annoor Academy, a private Islamic school just off Pellissippi Parkway. Once a year, volunteers – often friends and family of students and faculty – cook traditional food from their cultures, which guests sample in exchange for $1 tickets bought at the Festival gates. Parent-Teacher Organization President Sarah Elkassabani recalls attending the Festival back in 2016 with her own kids. “We bought tickets and went to every single booth to get food and ate literally everything,” says Elkassabani. “It was so fun to just be around so many different people.”

But in 2019, the event disappeared; the organizer left the school, and soon after COVID-19 hit. This year, however, a group of PTO members, led by Elkassabani, took it upon themselves to revive the tradition and bring back the International Food Festival. Elkassabani sees this year as an opportunity to share “a love for our community and all the different cultures that we can represent throughout Knoxville”.

All the volunteers make their food for free, as all the money raised goes towards funding for the school. “The most exciting part for a lot of them, I’ve heard,” Elkassabani shares, “is seeing what some random person that has never had this type of food before [thinks] about it.”

The Festival begins at 11 am on August 19. Just $1 will get you in the door, and most booths don’t charge more than $5 for their offerings, so come hungry and eager to try something (or somethings!) new.

You can find the International Food Festival online here.

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