A World A’Fair: Dayton has been traveling the world without leaving town for 46 years

International festival that celebrates diversity in the Miami Valley happening this weekend.

For decades, thousands of people have headed downtown to see the world.

A World A’Fair, Dayton’s international carnival, has celebrated the diversity of the Miami Valley for 46 years.

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The popular event traces its roots to the Rev. Gabriel Rus of the Society of Mary. Rus led the University of Dayton's department of foreign students and organized an ethnic festival for them.

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The festival then expanded to include ethnic churches from the entire city and later the Dayton Council on World Affairs. In those early days, the festival also incorporated a radio show and panel discussions.

“It’s really a gigantic Octoberfest in May,” said Mrs. Aldona Ryan, the coordinator of the first festival in a 1974 newspaper interview. “You can eat your way around the world, among other things.”

A “mini parade” led festival goers down Main Street to the inaugural event. Representatives from 27 different countries, including Latvia, Greece, Italy, Peru and Korea participated.

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Photographs taken through the decades have captured a Samoan high chief adorned with a necklace, new citizens sworn in, and the inspiring opening flag ceremonies with colorfully attired delegates from around the globe.

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WHAT: A World A'fair

WHEN: 5 p.m.- 11 p.m. Friday, May 17;11 a.m.- 11 p.m. Saturday, May 18; 11 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sunday, May 19

WHERE: Dayton Convention Center., 22 E. 5th St., Dayton

INFO: Facebookaworldafair.org

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