UW-Eau Claire hosts CultureFest

CultureFest is back for the first time in two years

Bridget Maxwell

More stories from Bridget Maxwell

Mahsa “Jina” Amini
October 5, 2022
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Photo by Bridget Maxwell

CultureFest highlights different traditions and customs through this immersive event.

UW-Eau Claire hosted CultureFest this past Sunday, April 24. This event featured live performances, food, artifacts, crafts and activities. 

This event was free and open to the public and students. According to UW-Eau Claire, this was designed to bring together different cultures in the surrounding area to celebrate their traditions and customs. 

Davies Student Center was decorated to represent the diverse array of cultures in attendance. The rooms upstairs differed depending on the organization occupying them. The organizations supplied a variety of foods, activities and items for sale. 

The main floor of Davies had performances every half-hour. Student and local performers showcased a culturally significant dance, song or instrument on stage. 

Featured dance performer Bailey Imhoff, a second-year neuroscience student, said it is important to expose oneself to new things. She said participating in different cultures helps obtain new perspectives on life. 

“It is super cool I was allowed to learn and perform a modern version of a Bollywood dance with Maurine, an exchange student from India,” Imhoff said. 

Learning this dance, she said, gave her the chance to show her appreciation for Indian culture. 

According to UW-Eau Claire, there were a total of 19 organizations in attendance and the money profited through sales of food or artifacts went back to them. 

The participating on-campus organizations/people include (the):

  • African Student Association.
  • Baltic States.
  • Council on Internationalization & Global Engagement.
  • Korean Student Association.
  • Japanese Cultural Society.
  • Malaysians Abroad Diversified.
  • Ruby Sonnek, Nooreen Fatima Syeda & Bailey Imhoff (student performers).
  • And Stephen Trieschman (performer).

Community Groups present were (the):

  • Bizhiki Culture and Dance Company.
  • Baha’i Faith.
  • CC, We Adapt.
  • Chippewa Valley Irish Dance.
  • Chippewa Valley Museum.
  • Chippewa Valley Postcard Project.
  • Czechia/Slovakia.
  • Midwest Institute of Scandinavian Culture.
  • And the Minnesota Taiwanese Foundation.
  • Race Amity Interfaith Network.
  • Sons of Norway.
  • Swan Lake Ballet Studio.
  • Waldemar Ager Association.
  • And Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners.

Brenna Jasper, the owner of the Chippewa Valley Irish Dance studio gave lessons to participating visitors.

“I hope this event exposes more people to Irish dance since it’s not well known in the area,” said Jasper.

Organizations set up tables providing activities and crafts to visitors. There were also presentations put on where you could participate in their specialty after it was finished, according to UW-Eau Claire.  

Guests could carve wood, learn phrases in another language and Irish dance lessons were available at certain stations. 

One of the closing acts was a Bharatanatyam dance performed by Ruby Sonneck, a second-year religious studies student.

Sonneck said she hoped this event helped widen people’s perspectives on Indian culture. There is value in learning about and from others, she said, it will broaden thinking. 

“This dance is a rich part of Indian culture and I’m happy I was given the chance to share this with others,” Sonneck said.

CultureFest will return next year with new immersive cultural performances and activities.   

Maxwell can be reached at [email protected].