Every April the University of Mary Washington comes alive with a celebration of culture, diversity and spring at the Annual Multicultural Fair.
At the center of the outdoor fair is UMW’s own Eagle Bhangra, a student dance group that promotes diversity on campus by sharing folk Punjabi dances native to the Punjab region of Pakistan and India. They’ve become an iconic sight as they move barefoot down the bricks of Campus Walk in their brightly colored costumes, spreading energy and smiles as they go.
“We hope to inspire our viewers to dance and to give them joy,” said Eagle Bhangra Captain Maria Joranko, a senior double studio art and art history major.
Eagle Bhangra is one of more than 30 music and dance groups participating in 25th annual fair on Saturday, April 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event draws thousands to the Fredericksburg campus annually.
The fair, organized by the James Farmer Multicultural Center, is dedicated to showcasing as many cultures and cultural expressions as possible through a variety ethic performances, international foods and craft vendors. The fair also features kid-friendly crafts, activities and performances.
“We want the spirit of the Multicultural Fair to be very positive,” said Greta Franklin, associate director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center. “It’s a fun, celebratory atmosphere. Anybody can come to the fair and have a great time.”
The fair’s theme of “differences enrich us all” demonstrates UMW’s commitment to multicultural awareness, and offers the chance to learn about new cultures and experiences, including Bhangra.
“We hope that people take away a sense of excitement and a desire to learn a little more about Indian culture,” said Joranko. “We are glad to expose them to this dance form that they may never have heard of.”
In addition, more than 50 vendors will sell an array of jewelry, pottery, instruments and traditional clothing representing various cultures and food trucks from different cuisines.
The fair has grown tremendously since its premier in 1990. With more than 4,000 attendees each year, the fair is one of the largest events on UMW’s campus.
The Multicultural Fair will be held rain or shine and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://umw.edu/multicultural/fair or contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center at (540) 654-1044.