The Ethnic Fair, a longstanding annual tradition at Northwestern, will be held tomorrow, March 31, and everyone on campus is welcome.
With its roots dating back at least twenty years, the fair is a multicultural event that celebrates the cultures of societies around the world. It is sponsored by the International Club, also known as I-Club, and has always been known for its food, music and other entertainment.
“I’ve seen Ethnic Fair photos from the early ‘80s,” said Dr. Kevin McMahan of the Intercultural Affairs department. He will be helping with the logistics of the event, such as cooking, decorating and awards. “I believe it originated with Dr. Lyle VanderWerff, who essentially established our international program.”
The fair will feature a wide range of activities, from an ethnic all-you-can-eat meal to a multicultural fashion show, and a number of special challenges will also be held, for which students will be awarded prizes.
“The Chopstick Challenge is a traditional contest,” McMahan said, “and this year I think the Canadians are offering a hockey demo.”
Students will also have the chance to watch a number of dances presented by the I-Club. Senior Christine Roy has prepared one of these herself. “This year I choreographed a finale dance for the show,” Roy said. “It’s something different, and I’m really pumped about it.”
The Ethnic Fair provides a fun environment as well as insight into NW’s diversity, but a lot of work is put into its preparation and coordination.
“It’s like how a big play excites but drains theatre students,” said Ms. Grace Rohrer, an advisor of international students. “This involves weeks of planning, rehearsing, cooking and set up.”
But students can still help prepare for the event. “Everyone is welcome to help with the cooking and decorating on Friday night,” McMahan said, “starting at 7 p.m. in the Cafe kitchen and the Intercultural Office.”
Even though the fair aims to be fun for all, it serves a different purpose, as well. Roy notes that when students witness and participate in traditions from so many different cultures, they have the opportunity to better understand peers who come from a different cultural background.
“We hope for students to get a glimpse of our homes, culture and most of all us,” Roy said. “This show is a way that we can share a huge part of ourselves with this community and get excited to be who we are and what we represent.”
The Ethnic Fair will run from 5 to 7 p.m. in the RSC four court area. Students can get a discount by bringing their own dishes and silverware.
“The food is always very good,” McMahan said. “This is a fun way to celebrate the many tasty and interesting cultures we have here at NW.”