Celebrating global cultures

A glimpse at the 2019 International Folk Fair

More stories from Melanie Walleser

The International Folk Fair — one of the largest cultural events in the Chippewa Valley, according to Volume One — is returning this year with representation from more than 20 different cultures including various food and cultural items, interactive displays, artwork, plus lessons in song, dance and language.

“We really encourage all the groups to share their art with the Eau Claire community,” said Lisa Shahnor, a Center for International Education intern, fourth-year marketing student and international student from Malaysia.  

Popular dance groups and fan favorites from previous years, including Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, will be returning once again to perform.

New featured performers include Jawaahir Dance Company, a dance group from the Twin Cities that performs Arab folk dancing and storytelling, Kelsey Avey, the International Student and Scholar Services Graduate Intern, said.

The International Folk Fair is an annual event, and each year it has a specific theme to highlight the event. The Center for International Education has advertised this year’s theme as Art Amplified.

Avey said she is excited about the Art Amplified theme.

“I think art is a great way to cultivate curiosity of other cultures, it develops interest,” Avey said. “I think art tells stories and there’s so much tradition that can play into that. A great way to understand another culture is through their art and the stories it tells.”

Avey said she encourages all students and members of the UW-Eau Claire community to attend.

“It’s a great way to experience a lot of diversity within the Chippewa Valley, to get involved and meet new people,” Avey said.

Shuyu Han, a Center for International Education intern, fourth-year accounting student and international student from China, said the food and location are the biggest attractions at the International Folk Fair.

“I think what most attracted me was the food,” Han said. “There’s a lot of food that I haven’t tried from different countries. I love that students don’t need to actually spend money and travel to other countries they can just come to Davies Center to enjoy and explore other cultures.”

Shahnor also said the International Folk Fair is a great way to discover other cultures without having to travel.

“International Folk fair is a great way to travel the world without leaving the campus,” Shahnor said. “I really like that aspect of the event.”

Shahnor said she appreciates having her culture represented at the event.

“I love that a part of my identity is represented,” Shahnor said. “I think my favorite part is talking with the different organizations and sharing cultures.”

The International Folk Fair will be held from 12 to 4 p.m. on April 6 in the Davies Student Center. While visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations for the Campus Harvest Food Pantry, the event is free to the public.

Walleser can be reached at [email protected]