As we continue with the Discovering Heritages series, let’s take a moment to learn about a great event that brings together heritages from around the world. This three-day event is held under one single roof to celebrate, educate, remember and preserve what makes them all special in their own way.
This event is called A World A’Fair and it’s held annually in Dayton, Ohio. This year, it will be held May 18-20, 2018 at the Dayton Convention Center. For this, I’ve interviewed Mary Reaster, the Second Vice President, Cultural Chair and Co-chair of Technology.
What is A World A’Fair?
A World A’Fair is a festival to celebrate all of the cultures that make the Dayton community what it is today. Dayton was listed as the first “Certified friendly city” in 2014 according to US Chamber. Dayton celebrates the heritage of their neighbors and honor traditions with food, wares, dances, and cultural displays.
Membership has grown to 34 organizations (countries) that are represented from all around the globe.
This event is organized and ran by volunteers. There are a lot of hours planning, preparing, promoting and hosting this event. It is truly a labor of love. One of her most favorite parts of the weekend is the honor to watch a naturalization ceremony. What an amazing experience to observe families become naturalized citizens of a country that she was privileged to be born into.
Who is the Dayton International Festival, Inc (DIFI)?
Dayton International Festival Inc. is an established 501c3 that is made up of various not-for-profit organizations. This organization is responsible for organizing the A World A’Fair each year.
Why Dayton, Ohio?
Dayton was once a mecca for workers during the industrialization period. With Dayton’s close proximity to Cincinnati and Columbus as well as being located on a river, this is a great spot. With Wright Patterson Airforce Base in the backyard as well as two great colleges, Wright State and the University of Dayton, there is a constant flow of transient residents. They pride themselves on their diversity within Dayton and the surrounding communities.
What Activities are at this Event?
This event includes many of the great traditions that people celebrate about their heritages including authentic ethnic food, music, dancing, beer, wine and other spirits. There is also a Naturalization Ceremony that takes place during this event.
Children have the opportunity to participate and various activities and crafts.
This year, the event will be welcoming back the Dayton Chess Club. Chess is a worldwide activity and has been a huge hit over the years with young and old alike.
What’s New for 2018?
In 2018, A World A’Fair welcomes new groups representing Nigeria, Rwanda and Nubia. They are also introducing spirits at several of their member organizations. For example, margaritas at Mexico and Ouzo slushies at Greece to name a few.
Why do you personally feel that it’s important for people to discover different heritages?
America is truly a melting pot. With the division, we are feeling as a country and even in the world today, it is my opinion, now more than ever, we need to know and understand our cultural differences. It is my opinion that everything that divides us, really should be unifying. We all have a story to tell. We all have ancestors that immigrated to this country to make a better life. That doesn’t mean we forget what made us who we are today as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation.
Who Do You Encourage to Attend This Event?
We encourage everyone to attend! This is a family-friendly event. We offer Children’s Passports to the kids to go around and learn about each country at their culture booth and get a stamp when they have completed the task. We have an interactive stage for those who want to learn an ethnic dance. That ranges from belly dancing to polka, to Kolo, to salsa and beyond. We love to see young and old alike.
What are Some Things You Hope Visitors Get Out of A World A’Fair?
As different as we are, we are all so very much alike. We are neighbors. We are friends. We are a community.
It is our goal to have our visitors leaving our event with a greater appreciation for their neighbor. We want everyone to have a fun visit and have learned something new about a culture they didn’t know before.
What are Some Things You Hope Participants, Vendors, Dancers and Other Event Organizers Get Out of This Event?
One thing that I truly cherish, and I know I speak for many, is the friendships that are formed. We are all present at this event to showcase our pride and love for our heritage but we do so as neighbors and friends. We call upon each other as we fall in need throughout the busy weekend. We work together all year round to present the best possible event to our guests.
To learn more about this event, check out their event website. .
About Mary Reaster, Second Vice President
Mary is celebrating her 4th year on the board and her 9th year participating in A World A’Fair. She is a member of the American Czechoslovakian Club of Dayton. She is active in this event because her children have Slovak heritage through their father. It’s imperative that they understand who they are and where they came from. She loves this festival and all that it represents.