Discover Family Roots at Marshfield Cultural Fair

Event Draws Record Numbers of Exhibitors

If you can’t come to the world, let it come to you.

On Saturday, February 24, the Marshfield Cultural Fair returns to UW-Marshfield/Wood County offering ethnic dances, exotic foods, souvenirs and activities.

“We have always sought to promote dialogue and understanding between people of different cultural backgrounds,” said Julie Tharp, cultural fair president, about the organization’s mission.

The feature room, which typically focuses on a culture or activity, is titled “Finding Our Roots.” Genealogists will help direct searches for family origins, and attendees can tell their own family’s journey in front of a camera. These clips will be made into a show which highlights Marshfield’s family histories and shared on Marshfield Community Television and the Cultural Fair website. Families and kids can get their picture taken for passports.

Entertainers include Janelle’s School of Irish Dance, Ecuadorian music, Prazna Flasa Balkan music, Hoocak performers, Goongoo Peas Caribbean and African folk music, Ki Nagare Dojo martial arts demonstration, Polynesian dance, Indian Dance, Main Street Conservatory of Dance, India Youth Dance and country line dancing.

“Hale O Malo is exciting and should warm everyone right up. We have not had Hawaiian music or dance before.” said Tharp. “I’m also really excited to host Goongoo Peas, a Caribbean group based in Madison. I saw them perform at the Portage County Festival and loved the drums and island vibe.”

The Hoocak Dancers are returning performers. “There are quite a few Native American features this year which feels important and meaningful to me,” said Tharp. “Debra Morningstar will share Oneida stories in the children’s area.”

Children will find plenty of activities to do at the Cultural Fair. These include crafts (rain sticks, decorated Masai collars, Japanese Yakko kites), Oneida storytelling, puppeteers, instruments, and puzzles. Children will be given a passport and fill it with stickers as they visit stations.

“We have an adult student at the UW-Marshfield/Wood County campus who confided to me that she cherished her Cultural Fair passport as a kid and that it has inspired her to travel the world,” said Tharp.

A record number of exhibitors and vendors selling special cultural items or giving demonstrations will line the hallway and fill the gym. Some are participating in a new language activity, “Global Gab,” which gives people the opportunity to learn an expression in the exhibitor’s language and earn a sticker.

Once they collect enough stickers, participants in a drawing for a free dinner at Taqueria El Sol, El Mezcal or China Chef. Forms for this activity can be picked up at the registration table. We have a new language activity called “Global Gab.” All you have to do to participate is pick up a form at the registration table and look for the colorful globe pictures posted at the exhibitors’ tables.

For $1 tickets, try a variety of ethnic and American cuisine down in the cafeteria. The list of vendors include Jamaican Kitchen, Taqueria El Sol, Slice of Heaven, China Chef, Tapas Bar by the Wood Café, Fry Bread Tacos by Kasuns, Nagoya Sushi, and The Rivers.

“STAR, or Samples Tasting and Review, will be a new activity in the Food Court. Guests can buy $1 STAR plates from participating vendors, who will be competing with one another to make the best sample,” said Tharp. “To date, we have Indian fry-bread tacos, Spanish tapas, Jamaican jerk, Japanese sushi, Mexican specialties and Slice of Heaven desserts on the menu.”

Ruth and Gary Elderbrook of catering company A Slice of Heaven have participated in the event as a dessert vendor for nearly ten years. This year, Ruth will return with her homemade cheesecake squares and cupcakes, and assorted sodas, water and coffee.

The cheesecake flavors are chocolate, German Chocolate, turtle, and New York. Cupcakes include white, chocolate with cream cheese or buttercream frosting, peanut butter chocolate, Oreo and lemon.

Ruth said she is about 98% Irish with a little Dutch and Scotch. Her husband Gary is English, German and Irish.

The Marshfield Cultural Fair is free and open to the public from 10-4 p.m. For a complete schedule of events, visit the organization’s website here. 

Cheesecake squares from A Slice of Heaven