A World A’Fair: Eat, Drink, and Dance Around the World in Dayton
Every year, our family spends an afternoon circling the globe. The annual ‘A World A’Fair’ festival at the Dayton Convention Center here in Dayton, Ohio, teaches me something new every year. Except not to over-eat. I’ll never learn that one.
Various cultural societies from around the Dayton area gather each May to showcase their heritage, and to enjoy the payoff for months of hard work. It takes a lot of people practicing performances, creating delicious food offerings, and organizing activities and events for this weekend of celebration.
The booths at A World A’Fair range from festive to outright beautiful. Some countries have their own isle, with crisscrossing streamers and traditional decorations. This year, Vietnam actually offered some of their booth space as a little dine-in restaurant, which was brilliant for all of us that were holding at least a drink and two food pieces at one time.
The Korea Booth
Each booth is a peek inside another part of the world. You could say that A World A’Fair is what I do in between trips to Epcot. It’s just enough food, shopping, and education to tide me over until our next trip. Yeah, I went a little crazy with the lantern photos. Can you blame me? This was one of the coolest displays. Here are a couple more from the Korea booth:
My great-great grandfather was a McGary from Ireland, so we always spend a little extra time perusing the land of the ginger. I got a sunburn a few days later just to prove my Irish mettle.
The girls in Ireland told us about the Matchmaker Festival that takes place in Ireland at the bar depicted above. They did such a great job recreating the building! The story goes that matches made at this bar in Ireland are meant to be. Better get photo proof with the husband just in case this faux bar counts for luck!
I forget which country, but this was cool:
A lot of countries have displays like the one below, where they showcase traditional costumes and have information that you can read about certain festivals or traditions.The Netherlands also had this working wind-up organ:
We stop to hear this organ each time we come to A World A’Fair. One year, they let me kids crank it up and they received ‘Juinior Organ Grinder’ certificates. I knew they were monkeys!
Here is the organ in action:
I forget which country this was, too, but I really like their display over the walkway:
World A’Fair Food
Of course, my favorite part of any festival is tasting all of the food. I’m not out to eat a meal, I just want to taste a bit of everything. The serving sizes at A World A’Fair are perfect for tasting a little bit of what every country has to offer.
We tried at least three empanadas from all over the world, baklava in Turkey, cream puffs in Germany, mochi from Japan, and gyros in Greece. My husband, Mr T, always tries the haggis in Scotland, but this year they were all out. That means everyone actually ate all of that haggis.
World A’Fair Performances
All day, every day of the World A’Fair event, there is dancing, music, and even workshops for guests to enjoy. One year, we were treated to a taiko lesson from Japan. This year, we stuck to the larger of the two stages to take in a few acts.
Stop! See this guy? The one with the magnificent Ron Swanson mustache to match his pelt? Here, he is exiting the stage after his country’s dance.
My husband, in his infinite wisdom, approached him and called him a yeti. To which Yeti Ron Swanson scoffed and started weaving a tale about how he was a creature who warded off winter with the cacophony of bells strapped to his butt. He took the time to teach us all about it, and shake his ass in boisterous abandon. But I must have been mesmerized by his Nick Offerman charm, because now I forget which country all of that happens in.
Half the reason to attend A World A’Fair is conversations like that.
Even though I have enough Scottish in me to enjoy the bagpipes, the performance from France was by far my favorite, as my good friend Karla was part of the group! She deftly cross-stepped her way across the stage as two handsome Parisian men tried to woo her.
A World A’Fair happens each May at the Dayton Convention Center. If you’re looking to eat, drink, dance, and maybe even learn something, I suggest marking the calendar for this, one of Dayton’s best annual events.