World A'Fair lanterns

A World A’Fair: Eat, Drink, and Dance Around the World in Dayton

Rain Blanken World A'Fair
Cheers! It’s World A’Fair time, again!

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.

Booth Decorations

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

World A'Fair Vietnam BoothEach 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. World A'Fair lanterns Lanterns Dayton World A'Fair Lanterns Dayton World A'FairYeah, 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:

kkwaenggwari
A traditional kkwaenggwari gong. Or at least, that’s what the sign said.
Korea World AFair
Not sure what is happening here.

Ireland

World A'Fair Ireland
My people!

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.

World A'Fair DaytonThe 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!

Germany

World A'Fair Germany
I didn’t see an explanation for this display.

Brazil

World Afair brazil

I forget which country, but this was cool:

World A'Fair display World AFair Mask

China

Chinese Paper World Afair

At the China booth, they explained how, during the New Year celebration, people in China make cut-outs using paper in the lucky color red. Paper crafting on new years? Sounds awesome to me.
Chinese Drum
China Lanterns

Netherlands

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.Czech World AFairThe Netherlands also had this working wind-up organ:

Netherlands Organ Netherlands World AFairWe 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 AFair

Scotland

The Scotland booth has had these wooden photo cut-outs for as long as we’ve been coming to A World A’Fair over the years. We always have to snap a photo. The kids always make the same faces.
World AFair Scotland

World A’Fair Food

Food World A'Fair Dayton
Dumplings from the China booth.
Chinese Food World A'Fair
Eating and learning, all in one convenient location.

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 Food
Empanadilla de Carne and Alcapurria in Puerto Rico
World A'Fair Drinks
My new favorite wine, available at the France booth.

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.

World A'Fair irish dancers
A stompy performance from the Celtic Academy of Irish Dance
World A'Fair Dancer
Chinese ribbon dancing.

China Ribbon DancerRon Swanson Yeti

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.

World A'Fair Bagpipes
Bagpipers performing right at the Scotland booth.

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.

World A'Fair Dance
Karla Peters enchanting the audience.
World A'Fair Dance
Yep, this is the lady who choreographed my wedding dance!

World A'Fair Dance
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.

Bottega Veneta Window NYC

A Long Strange Trip to Drinks at London Bar NYC

If there’s anything The Wiz has taught me, it’s that scary things live in the subway.

Broadway Lights
The lights of Zoo York are much easier to process than the window decorations.

When I am in Manhattan, you can bet I am on an assignment adventure. This time, I accepted an invitation from Gordon Ramsay’s London Bar NYC to try their Fashion Week-themed drinks.

My mother and I headed out from the Millennium Hotel in Times Square for a chilly walk that day, talking the long way ’round in hopes of shoving some New York sights into our eyeballs before grabbing drinks on Chef Ramsay’s dime. Little did we know, our journey to complimentary cocktails would be a gauntlet of giant man-eating dolls and shiny wild animals.

Armani 5th Avenue Storefront
Armani 5th Avenue Storefront

Since we were in NYC during fashion week, I was expecting to see some of the best window displays along 5th Avenue. The above Armani shop was inspiring; decked out in hearts and nothing but breathtaking.

However, this little lady was lurking just down the street:

Bottega Veneta Window NYC
Ultra Creepy Bottega Veneta Window NYC

And by ‘little lady’, I mean a 10 foot tall Blythe doll. Check out the security guard standing next to her. Oh, thanks, Bottega Veneta. You’ve erased all fear of street crime from my brain, because now I’ve got this reality to deal with.

It was unsettling, until I realized that her friends were lurking just a few steps away. Then my brain broke: Nope nope nope nope.

Bottega Veneta Window NYC
My mother fearlessly faces the Bottega Veneta Window sentinels.

All I can think of is what their blinking must sound like. Suddenly, I’m in a dark alley. Click-clack. Squeeeak. Good thing their proportions would make running virtually impossible. They’d canter forward unsteadily, and then crumple into a ball of bouncing, breaking plastic, rolling down the sidewalk and into a subway stairwell.

If there’s anything The Wiz has taught me, it’s that scary things live in the subway:

Later, we crossed paths into another realm; an ethereal world of gossamer dreams, glimmering secrets, and overpriced accessories:

NYC Window Display
A magical merry-go-round. Without the fun!
NYC Window Display
Silver animals writhing with purses = I wanna buy that?

Draped in purses, shoes, sunglasses and scarves, these animals somehow seemed more naked than a Yogi Bear. Maybe it was the because they were shiny? Shiny in an obscene way, somehow. Put some pants on, you animals!

If you know where these were, let me know. They were life-sized and absolutely beautiful. Almost enough to bleach my brain the Blythe nightmare fuel down the street.

Time to See the Wizard

After fighting our way though the jungle of horror and whimsy, we arrived at the London Bar in need of a hard drink or four.

Our selections included the London Red Carpet, Little Black Dress, and Haute Toddy (get it? get it? Fashion week!)

My favorite drink at the London Bar, by far, was the Haute Toddy. Incidentally, my husband, Mr. Todd, makes regular ol’ ‘Hot Toddys’ for me back at home, so I may have been a bit biased. That, and the Haute Toddy was a hot drink, and the warmth of my soul had just been sucked out by our cold Manhattan walk and the sleepless evil of Blythe.

Rain Blankent at the London Bar
Whiskey conquers all fears, once again!

Even though I’m a fan of drinking my dinner, we ordered a plate of $11 french fries. This beat my previous single french fry order record of $9. Hey, when you give an Irish lady some spending money, she’s likely to go buy whiskey and potatoes. Just saying. Since my whiskey was free, the fries seemed like a downright bargain (no).

London Bar NYC’s ‘Stylish Sips’ Top Four:

  1. Haute Toddy: After a long walk in the cold, a Haute Toddy was hands-down our favorite. Boozed up with plenty of whiskey, this spin on an old favorite had just enough citrus to keep the taste light.
  2. Little Black Dress: This one is a chocolatey Kahlua drink served over ice with a cherry. Though it was a dessert drink, this one wasn’t too rich, diluted enough to keep it tasting clean.
  3. London Red Carpet: This crimson beverage was fruit-punchy, but not sickly sweet. However, it was supposed to be spicy, but lacked the kick that i was expecting.
  4. Glamazon: This one comes in last, just because it didn’t have as strong a theme or ‘gimmick’ as the first three. Spicy, chocolaty, and hot are hard to compete with when you’re just a fruity seabreeze.

 

Rain Blanken Vogue

NYFW: Vogue Runway Retreat at Bar Boulud

Rain Blanken Vogue
Rain Blanken at the Vogue offices.

I hadn’t expected to be in NYC this Spring to catch some inspiration for next fall, but luckily, I was able to get to the city with my mom for a few days of fashion craziness. This was a really fun trip for just my mom and me- we hadn’t yet been on a trip with just us.

Vogue Runway Retreat

Amid designer interviews, sightseeing, and a few runway events, we had an exciting evening on our schedule: the Vogue Runway Retreat VIP party! I met a lot of fashion bloggers, had a few drinks, and even found my way to the makeover chair.

Usually I’m the one face painting at parties, so this was a change of pace for me.

Rain Blanken at Bar Boulud
My first makeover in a bar!

See all of my photos and adventures inside the Vogue Runway Retreat in my article at About.com…