Eastport Arts Center’s annual International Dinner was held February 15, a festive occasion replete with aromatic dishes from around the world enjoyed by candlelight under the center’s display of national flags. 

Every bite was delicious,” said first-time attendee Katherine Swann. “I was pleasantly surprised by the variety! Honestly, I sat at the table and observed all the new faces, smiling and enjoying conversations with their community. I watched the dancers with joyful faces. I thought, what a beautiful place to be alive. My only regret was that the rest of my family couldn’t attend. Now I feel like I’m writing a Yelp review, but I would 1,000% absolutely do it again and I’m exceedingly grateful to have found the art center.

Gustatory highlights included Greek meatballs and Tzatziki by Kris Smith; Thai Coconut Curry by Robbie Rubly-Burgraff; Cambodian Red Curry Chicken and Futomaki Sushi by Laura Reimer; Chicken Masala and Naan by Jeff Morrison; Irish Stew by Cynthia Morse; Jewish Matzo Ball Soup by Paula DeFilippo; Italian Meatballs in Sauce by Ron DeFilippo; Taiwanese Pork Fried Rice by Bob O’Hayer; and on the sweet side, South African Melktert by Laura Reimer; Cherry Pie by David Brass; Dobosh Torte by Connie Balogh; and German Chocolate Cake by Stephanie Allard.

The event kicked off a new green initiative at EAC: in an effort to reduce waste, the center served the meal using ceramic plates and biodegradable dishes. The food waste and single-use plates have been composted; all waste at the center is now being bagged in compostable plastic.

Performances by EAC’s International Dancers and local band Keltic Schmeltic completed the gay atmosphere. The dance group was founded in 2014 by Dovie Gaither, and has been going strong with weekly sessions at the center ever since (Thursdays, 4:30-6 pm). “Everybody is welcome—men, women, kids and young people,” said Claudia Jones, a longtime participant and current organizer of the group. “This is a nice, healthy activity where your mind and body join to enjoy the beautiful music from many countries like Romania, Israel, Poland, Hungary, etc.”

The band, a weekly affair since 1995, was formed by John Cashore and Steve Grannis, and has had a long association with EAC, cemented by marriage, as Steve’s wife Chris directs the center. Over the years, the group has performed for many fundraising events at EAC, including Moose Island Follies sets and opening for David Mallet. Members include Jonathan Aretakis (flute and guitar), Ken Brown (bass), John Cashore (violin, mandolin and guitar), Bill Dewar (violin and pennywhistle), Steve Grannis (guitar and harmonica); and Lee Suta (clarinet). Additional members are Brian Schuth (recorder and mandolin) and Gordon Phillips (percussion, autoharp). The band’s next gig is on St. Patrick’s Day at the Methodist Home in Calais, where a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage will be served.

“Congratulations for brightening up the winter,” said Alden Chandler, an attendee. “The dinner was fantastic, great food and such a warm, convivial group. Chalk up another great success!”

More information about programs of Eastport Arts Center, where creativity and community meet, may be found at eastportartscenter.org.