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Hundreds gather for Thai Festival at Federal Plaza Square

Updated: June 21, 2013 3:44PM

Chicagoans only had to venture to the Federal Plaza Thursday for a taste of Thailand’s food and culture instead of the 8,000 plus miles it takes to get to the country.

Hundreds of people were at the Thai Festival, which was organized by the Royal Thai Consulate General of Chicago. The three-day event, ending Friday, is open 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

“You have to come . . .and try everything,” said deputy consul general Chakkrid Krachaiwong, motioning to a mountain of coconuts shipped in from Thailand.

Several visitors toted the cleaver-cut coconuts around, as they looked up between sips at traditional Thai dances and musical performers.

The goal of the annual festival is to bring together the Thai community and show off the culture with hopes of boosting tourism in the country, Krachaiwong said.

Festival visitors also were able to eat food from six Thai restaurant stands.

“I looked down out of my office window and I thought, ‘Thai food! That sounds great!’ I made a beeline for it,” said Sarah Vanderwicken, 66, with her fork poised above her half eaten green papaya chicken salad.

In addition to the food and entertainment, attendees could visit several booths set up by several Thai associations.

“After my meeting I might come back for one of the Thai massages,” Vanderwicken said.

Three therapists gave free 10-minute massages to anyone willing to wait their turn.

Some people working the booths were from the Chicago area, while others had flown in especially for the festival from Thailand.

Worraporn Isarankura, a fortune teller, flew in from Thailand Wednesday night.

Isarankura acknowledged she was one of the more popular attractions at the festival, with a line in front of her table. She told more than 20 fortunes in an hour with the help of Tarot cards, and a translator.

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