The Westfest International Festival, an event as diverse as the city itself, will begin its annual three-day run Thursday at Granger Park.

The celebration, being held for the 12th year, pays tribute to the many people and cultures represented in Utah's second-largest city. It will feature a variety of entertainment, food, games and crafts that reflect West Valley's heterogeneous character."(Diversity) is a theme that we've used all along," said Jaci Barkley, chairwoman of the Westfest organizing committee. "We are using that to let everybody know there are all sorts of people who live in West Valley and all of them have something to contribute."

Festivities will begin at noon Thursday at Granger Park, 3500 South and 3600 West, and continue till 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Carnival rides and games will be offered from noon to 10:30 p.m. Thursday and from noon to 11:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Two stages will feature entertainment by local groups, many with an international flavor. Clowns, face painting and other activities will be available for children.

A talent show, held for the first time last year, will again be part of the lineup beginning at 6 p.m. each night, with cash and other prizes awarded to the winners. "Roaring Judy," an original melodrama written by Tom Jordan and directed by Julie Brough, will be presented at 9 p.m. all three nights.

The annual Westfest parade will kick off Saturday's happenings. It will leave the Valley Fair Mall at 10 a.m. and continue along 3500 South to Granger Park. More than 100 entries will be featured. Many will express an international theme or honor Utah's centennial.

A prize drawing will be held Saturday at 8 p.m. The grand prize is a trip for four to California.

The city has spent $14,000 on a fireworks display that will cap the event Saturday night at about 10 p.m.

Barkley said a crowd of about 10,000 is expected to attend on opening day. She anticipates at least 20,000 on Friday.

"Then on Saturday, the place is just packed, I'd say 25,000 to 30,000 people," she said. "For the fireworks display, it's just wall-to-wall people."

There is no charge to attend Westfest, but entrance into the fenced park will be regulated by security.

A wide selection of food will be sold, including Arkansas-style barbecue and Greek, Mexican and Polynesian dishes, as well as traditional American fare like hamburgers and hot dogs. Shaved ice and other cool and sweet treats will be plentiful.

A crafters mall will give artisans from a variety of cultures, including Central and South America, Asia, Europe, American Indian and the Polynesian islands, a chance to show and sell their wares. Other vendors will sell jewelry, musical instruments, craft supplies, toys and various novelties.

Kristin Bywater, Miss West Valley City, and her attendants will be on hand to greet festivalgoers.

For information, call the city's parks and recreation offices at 963-3214.