July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Taste of the world

MEDINA — There’s walking, and then there’s waulking.

The Gaelic method of fulling wool to the tempo of folk songs slow and fast was just one of the cultural demonstrations at the inaugural Medina International Fest on Saturday.

The event on the Square in Medina was combined with the Medina farmers market to create the atmosphere of a bazaar in one the far corners of the world, Matt Wiederhold, executive director of Main Street Medina, said.

“We decided to incorporate the farmers market so it would be like one great world city, a bazaar where on one side you could buy bread from a baker and on the other side you could get handmade Guatemalan textiles,” he said. “We wanted it to be fun and adventurous.”

Corn dogs and funnel cakes were nowhere to be found at the festival. Instead, fairgoers were treated to an array of ethnic food, from corned beef Ruebens from Sully’s to kafta from A Taste of Lebanon and baklava from Miss Molly’s Tea Room.

They also heard music from around the world, from the pinging tones of Caribbean steel drums to the soulful melodies of Gaelic fiddle music.

About 60 vendors, mostly from Northeast Ohio, sold wares including Amish hand-woven baskets, karma candles, and beads and textiles made in Africa.

Many of the vendors were proponents of fair trade. The fair trade movement advocates living wages and safe working environments for producers in the “Global South,” and proponents are often against the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mary McNamara, coordinator of Amani Cleveland, sold Amani beads made by a group of about 300 women from the clay of Mount Kenya. They are shaped, painted and fired by the women, then shipped to the United States, where they are made into necklaces and bracelets.

Money raised goes back to Kenya to build shelters and care for orphaned babies at New Life Home Trust.

McNamara also sold colorful scarves by Mayan Hands. On the tag of each scarf is the name of the Guatemalan woman who wove it.

“The women are paid a fair wage that allows them to eat better and send their children to school,” McNamara said.

Festival goers had the opportunity to paint their handprints on tiles that will be put together to become an abstract, 7-square-foot Earth mosaic. The location of the finished mosaic has not been decided, Wiederhold said.

“We had adults and kids do it, and some families would intertwine their fingers on the tile,” he said.

Flags from around the world have been hung up in Medina since the beginning of August, something that “got people talking” and may have contributed to the good turnout for the event, Wiederhold said.
One family driving through the square was shocked to see a flag from the Dominican Republic and stopped to take a photo of it, he said.

“The man said he couldn’t believe that where he lived, in Medina, would have a flag from his home country,” he said.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@ohio.net.