June 9, 2017

Summer brings warm weather, delicious produce, vacations … and Global Fair!

Written by  Linda Moffett
Gloria Bontrager, former EMM worker in Tanzania, enjoys pinchos de gallo with granddaughter Mykah Bontrager-Thomas at the 2016 Global Fair. EMM’s mission and culture fair attracts approximately 2,000 visitors annually. Gloria Bontrager, former EMM worker in Tanzania, enjoys pinchos de gallo with granddaughter Mykah Bontrager-Thomas at the 2016 Global Fair. EMM’s mission and culture fair attracts approximately 2,000 visitors annually. Photo by Tammy Evans.

WILLOW STREET, Pa. —  The international cultures festival — Eastern Mennonite Missions’ (EMM) Global Fair — is returning to the 1719  Hans Herr House and Museum in Willow Street, Pa., on July 15, 2017, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 22nd annual fair celebrates cultures and people from around the world through exhibits, food, animals, and more.

“Approximately 20 of our workers from around the world will set up displays,” said Jessica Fellenger, EMM events coordinator. “It’s a great way to learn about different countries and hear stories from other cultures. There’s also a wonderful local presence of nonprofit organizations and churches.”

Some of the countries represented include Albania, Belize, Cambodia, Guatemala, Kenya, and Vietnam, as well as countries across the South, Southeast, and Central regions of Asia.

“Where else in South Central Pennsylvania can you watch someone cook osh (a Central Asian rice dish) over a fire outdoors and enjoy a fresh plate of it?” Fellenger asked.

Attendees will also be able to purchase food prepared by local immigrants and refugees from Riversedge Mennonite Church, the Lao Fellowship of Harrisburg, the Upohar food truck, and El Buen Pastor (a local Spanish congregation), to name a few. Other options include stroopies (a caramel-filled Dutch waffle cookie), yak jerky, and ice cream from Oregon Dairy.

Children’s activities are free and include crafts and games. “There will be a giant jenga game and a water station that’s especially fun in hot weather,” Fellenger said. “A new treat this year is that the Mennonite Children’s Choir of Lancaster will perform. And of course, the always-popular alpacas will be there.”

 “Children are one of the big reasons we do this,” said Nelson Okanya, EMM’s president. “Our worldview expands when we learn about other cultures, countries, and religions. When we, and the next generation, understand those who are different from us, it results in tolerance and peace —  an increased rarity in today’s world. Of course, hopefully the kids are having fun and not realizing they are really learning at the same time!”

Artwork will be available to purchase from two local artists: paintings by Ryan Sommers, who served as a teacher at the PROMESA school in Peru, and pottery by Assefa Haile, a former EMM staff member and a native of Ethiopia.

“I’m excited that Assefa plans to bring his potter’s wheel and demonstrate throwing mugs,” said Fellenger. “Pottery is an ancient art form with rich analogies to our lives. It’s fascinating to watch a lump of clay become something useful.”

Visitors to Global Fair may also enjoy the 1719 Hans Herr House and Museum and the grounds, including the Native American longhouse. Parking is free; the suggested donation for admission is $1.00.