Patti Wenzel

Celebrating peace and harmony

By - Nov 18th, 2010 04:00 am
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Brazilian dolls

The Holiday Folk Fair has many things going for it – decadent pastries and dishes from around the world, unusual gifts ready for giving, ethnic dancers and musicians from every corner of the globe.

But it is more than just food and fun. The Folk Fair is also a place to learn about other cultures and celebrate peace.

“We want the Fair to accomplish cultural awareness,” says Folk Fair Chairman Azmi Alaeddin.

“We’re uneasy with other cultures, but if you get to know the people of another culture through their music, you might hold their hand and dance. You might be afraid to try a new food, but overcome that fear and enjoy it. We need to know each other and establish peace.”

Alaeddin points to the power of the Folk Fair in turning strangers into friends.

“My father came from Kuwait to visit and he felt like a stranger. I took him to the Folk Fair and he loved it. He fit in there and enjoyed seeing all the traditional dress and food. He enjoyed seeing Americans from a different perspective, as all the cultures came together. From then on until he died, he would make sure his visits coincided with the fair.”

Cultural peace was an easy choice as the 2010 theme, since this year marks the end of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly.
The UN defines the Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that rejects violence and prevents conflict, solving problems among individuals, groups and nations through dialog. The UN also has proclaimed 2010 the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, focusing on the great diversity of the world’s cultures and the links uniting them.

Mojav Vlast shares the traditional dances of the Czech and Slovak republics.

Another way the Holiday Folk Fair is bringing people together is through its partnership with the Hunger Task Force. Acknowledging that hunger is a problem that crosses all ethnicities, the fair will be collecting food at both entrances to the Wisconsin Exposition Center at State Fair Park. Those who bring two non-perishable food items will receive a commemorative coffee mug. When the supply of mugs runs out, food donations will give visitors $2 off regular adult admission.

In addition to sights and smells, this year’s fair features two photographic displays also celebrating the theme of tolerance and awareness — Art Beyond Borders and Invisible in the City. There will be a United States Citizenship Naturalization ceremony on Saturday morning and an “Around the World” 5k run/walk on Sunday.

For the cost of  lunch  you can discover the unique cultures that make up our community and increase the culture of peace our world so desparately needs today.

Now in it’s 67th year, the fair kicks off  Friday, Nov.19, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 21. General admission is $10; admission for seniors and children, ages 6-12, is $8. Admission is free for children age 5 and under. For more information, visit the fair’s website or call 414-225-6225.

All photos were taken at the 2009 Holiday Folk Fair by Patti Wenzel

Categories: Life & Leisure

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