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.

Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume

Gypsy Pirate Costume

Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume
Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume

We try to hit up the Ohio Renaissance Festival each year. There are live shows, unique vendors, and, my favorites, The Kings Nuts and honey mead. Here is the gypsy pirate costume that I cobbled together in the few minutes I had to get ready. The top is actually just a few long scarves strategically wrapped around my chestular region. The skirts were given to me by a good friend, and the rest is costume jewelry and accessories!

Later, Mr. T bought me a rose, and I took a cue from the Naughty Navels belly dancers and stuck it in my cleavage. Hey, when in the Renaissance…

Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume
Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume, yeah the boots aren’t period-authentic, I know.

I was kind of nervous about relying on a couple of scarves to guard my modesty, but my knots actually held up very well. I got through the day without incident, and didn’t have to sweat my way through the fest for once!

Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume
Rain Blanken’s Gypsy Costume with rose embellishment
Rain Blanken Gypsy Costume
Rain Blanken lurking in her Gypsy Costume

Compared to the many overflowing corsets populating the Ohio Renaissance Festival, I actually ended up being one of the more covered ladies in costume. Gotta love the olden days.

This is much better than the uniform I wore when I worked at the Renaissance festival:

Rain in her Ohio Renaissance Festival Gate Guard costume, 2009
Rain in her Ohio Renaissance Festival Gate Guard costume, 2009

Yikes. Check out that hat, ala the Swedish Chef. Yeah, you could say I had earned my bare-midriff day in the sun!