Tradition Highlight: The Multicultural Fair

The University of Mary Washington is rich in traditions. As a community, we join together for the first time at the beginning of the semester at Eagle Gathering, and depart in the exact same location for graduation. From our beginnings in 1908, we have adapted, pivoted, and created a history of community our students and alumni are extremely proud of. Personally, one of my favorite UMW traditions is the Multicultural Fair. Check out a little info on this incredible event: 

History: The multicultural fair has been happening for 29 years and exemplifies the University of Mary Washington’s commitment to enhancing multicultural awareness. It was originally referred to at the Multicultural International Festival, and then we were Mary Washington College. But as things have evolved and changed on campus and in the community, our commitment to diversity and inclusion has only become stronger and stronger- with the help of the James Farmer Multicultural Center.

Who:  Each year the James Farmer Multicultural Center works closely with UMW student organizations, faculty and staff in planning festivities for our students and community members to enjoy. The University also partners with the greater Fredericksburg community, which plays an integral role in successfully implementing the fair. Each year, the Multicultural fair generally attracts 5,000 to 6,000 people. 

What:  Admission to the event is FREE and provides an entire day devoted to multicultural entertainment, children’s activities, international and American food, and ethnic craft vendors (Don’t forget to bring cash and/or credit card for food and vendor purchases)From performances to speakers, to food trucks and face painting, the annual Multicultural Fair has become a highlight of many undergraduates’ experiences at UMW and a staple event for families in the Fredericksburg Area.

Where: Ball Circle, UMW Campus

When: Typically held in early April, and is an all-day event

Why: The James Farmer Multicultural Center is located in the University Center and is named after one of our beloved professors, Dr. James Farmer. Dr. Farmer was a civil rights activist and earned national prominence as one of the foremost leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. A few of his other outstanding accomplishments include organizing the nation’s first civil rights sit-in in Chicago, founding the Congress of Racial Equality- also known as CORE, organizing the “Freedom Rides” to desegregate interstate bus travel, and being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton. He served as a professor of History and American Studies at Mary Wash from 1985-1998. The James Farmer Multicultural Center strives to honor the late Dr. James L. Farmer and to keep his legacy alive.The JFMC welcomes students from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds and its goal is to enhance students’ educational experiences while at UMW by increasing awareness and knowledge of diversity issues (for example: cultural, ethnic, intellectual, social) that impact individuals as well as the community as a whole. 

Although we were unable to celebrate this favorite campus tradition this year, we are looking forward to making the next one the best yet. We are excited to get to take part in this, and the many other, UMW traditions with YOU on campus this fall! Make sure to stop by for a visit to the JFMC or go to Club Carnival to see what kind of groups and organizations you can join on campus that are centered on the values of the JFMC and our core values of A.S.P.I.R.E as a campus. 


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