2018 location: Dayton Convention Center
22 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402
Date: Usually the weekend before Memorial Day (May 18-20, 2018)
Ohio is a melting pot. Over the years people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe have come together to make it a very interesting place. In the beginning most of the immigrants came from Europe. As the Countries involvement in Asia and other area of the world, the diversity of the state expanded too. One city that has embraced this diversity is Dayton. The city has many cultural organizations that help to keep the spirit of the people’s homeland alive and to help to educate the next generations.
For the past 45 years the many organizations have been coming together to celebrate the diversity of its people. Known as A World A’Fair, the event brings over 30 cultural heritage groups from around the region to one large celebration, the largest international festival in Ohio. Housed in the Dayton Convention Centers main hall the event is basically a market and two stages.
The “market” area is the largest section. It consist of one booth from each of the organizations involved. Each year the A’Fair has one aspect of culture that it focuses on. Each booth is required to display something based on that aspect. The single focus does an amazing job of showcasing the diversity of culture, while at the same time showing that all cultures have something in common. At most booth food is served. This is not just some over popularized sampling of the culture, like a fourth grade presentation. This is the real immigrants spending time to make the food of their homelands. While some of the food is common to the palate of the average 21st century American, such as bratwurst, wontons, curry, or pizza, it is all made in the tradition al way. The food is reasonably priced and a great reason to come back over the 3 days. Some booths sell merchandise too. The event is one of the largest fundraising for any group involved. Over 30,000 people attended in 2016.
The entertainment for A World A’Fair is also provide by the organizations. The 3 day event has many dancers, singers, and acrobats spread out over two stages. The Main Stage is where the large presentations take place. It is a large area off to the side of the main floor. The very large bleachers always seem to have space despite the crowds. The Interactive Stage is a smaller area for more, well interactive, presentations. The area is quite small and can fill up fast. Most groups preform many times over the weekend, with multiple chances to see them every day. These are great places to stop and eat, rest during the day, and wait to eat some more.
To help keep the younger ones interested the event has a children’s passport. The passport is a small book with questions that can be answered with information found at each booth. There also is a small child’s area in front of the Main Stage with crafts and demos. There also is a separate fair in the lobby of the convention center. Here many local organizations such as The Humane Society of Greater Dayton, and the Dayton Metro Library have informational booth for people waiting in line to enter. Sometimes the festivities from inside spill out into this area.
Over the years The World A’Fair has become more than a simple high school level presentation of cultures. It is a 3 day explosion of diversity and food, and dancing, and more food. A must see for anyone looking to expand their understanding of the world.
Tip: Around noon Saturday a Naturalization Ceremony is held to welcome more citizens to the nation. A great chance to see the love that the immigrants coming to the area have for their new home, while still celebrating their old home.