Courtesy of Connie De Jong
The Midwest Fair Trade Fest began as a small gathering to celebrate World Fair Trade Day, which is May 11. The event has become a cultural experience aimed to educate people on sustainable living, which is a lifestyle aimed to reduce one’s use of Earth’s natural resources.
“Our very first event was basically a potluck,” said Connie De Jong, executive director of Global Gallery, a nonprofit in Columbus that sells fair trade and local green goods through its stores. “We just decided we wanted to do something for our volunteers to celebrate World Fair Trade Day … and every year it evolves into a bigger celebration of culture and it’s been, in a lot of ways, different every year.”
The Fair Trade Fest is scheduled for Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on campus at 2201 Fred Taylor Drive. The fest is in its 11th year.
Fair trade refers to a movement in which producers in developing countries receive a fair price for products through trade.
While it was once just a Global Gallery gathering, it has grown into a collaborative event with Students for Fair Trade at The Ohio State University. This group is a relatively new presence on campus, said Sara Stanger, a second-year in globalization studies and co-president of Students for Fair Trade.
“On campus, we’re only in our third year as a student (organization), so we’re still fairly new,” Stanger said. “Since we started, we’ve been working with the Midwest Fair Trade Fest.”
The Fair Trade Fest is scheduled to feature live entertainment, a marketplace devoted to selling fair trade products and food straight out of Global Gallery’s kitchen.
De Jong said the cuisine available at the event is something attendees should look forward to tasting.
“We have a really great menu this year – it seems like we keep developing more fun things to add,” De Jong said. “We’ll have bison momos, which are a Tibetan dumpling, homemade hummus (and) fresh organic strawberry spinach salad.”
De Jong said there will also be choices available for less adventurous eaters, including a gourmet dish created from a classic sandwich.
“We have a three-cheese pasta we call ‘Grandma’s Pasta,'” De Jong said. “We have some really yummy gourmet peanut butter and jelly made with fair trade peanut butter … It’s really quite an abundance of yummy things to take in.”
One of the main forms of entertainment slated to take place at the festival is a fair trade fashion show planned by the Students for Fair Trade.
Amy Farrar, a second-year in hospitality management, co-president of the organization and a store manager at Global Gallery at OSU, said the show will be divided into three segments showcased throughout the day.
“Each segment features items to show the participants that fair trade clothing and thrift store clothing have a lot of uses,” Farrar said. “That’s going to be featured all day, so every hour (there) will be one segment.”
In the two fair trade segments of the show, Stanger said specific clothing companies will show their designs that coincide with the theme of the festival. The third segment will solely feature thrift store fashion.
“There’s a fair trade clothing line called Indigenous and we’re using their pieces, as well as another fair trade company called Mata Traders, and they have different accessory and jewelry pieces that we’ll be using, so each segment will have its own theme,” Stanger said. “For one of them it’s thrift store fashion … in that way, (showing) practicing sustainability and conserving by reusing fashion.”
For the remainder of the day various performers are scheduled to perform. De Jong said many of these performers were featured at the festival in 2012.
“The Castros will be performing again (and) Bohemian Highway will be performing,” she said.
According to the Midwest Fair Trade Fest’s website, other performers will include sitar player Hans Utter, as well as dance performers Sacred Shimmy Bellydance and Penumbra.
Farrar said this event will be beneficial to everyone who attends, especially because of the sense of camaraderie it provides.
“The biggest aspect of the fest is that it has a great big sense of community,” Farrar said. “Learning how to live a sustainable life so that it helps others (provide) a big circle of caring for everyone involved.”
Stanger agreed, and said the festival can be a learning experience for everyone who attends, regardless of their level of understanding of fair trade.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of what fair trade is, or never heard of it, or don’t understand the impact it has,” Stanger said. “So I think that for anyone interested in learning more, this event is a great one to come to.”
Tickets for the Midwest Fair Trade Fest are $5 each for adults and children 12 and under can get in for free. Tickets can be purchased at either Global Gallery location, 3535 N. High St. or 682 N. High St., at Snowdon Gallery in Campbell Hall or online.