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News / Life / Clark County Life

Peace & Justice Fair celebrates bigger ideas

Sense of sharing, community infuse Vancouver event, along with a whole lot of fun

By Amelia Fisher, Columbian news assistant
Published: September 12, 2019, 6:03am
14 Photos
A family at a previous Peace and Justice Fair look at the John Denver Memorial Peace Cloth on display in Esther Short Park. At top clockwise: Sonya Norton dressed up as Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Kiran Uppel of Vancouver dances in the Maharaja Bhangra Dance Company; Pete Seeger, played by Port of Vancouver Commissioner Don Orange; Buttons were passed out at the 13th annual Peace and Justice Fair; Jaime Brooks portraying a living statue of Lady Justice.
A family at a previous Peace and Justice Fair look at the John Denver Memorial Peace Cloth on display in Esther Short Park. At top clockwise: Sonya Norton dressed up as Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Kiran Uppel of Vancouver dances in the Maharaja Bhangra Dance Company; Pete Seeger, played by Port of Vancouver Commissioner Don Orange; Buttons were passed out at the 13th annual Peace and Justice Fair; Jaime Brooks portraying a living statue of Lady Justice. Columbian file photos Photo Gallery

Striving toward peace and justice are lofty pursuits, but the Vancouver Peace and Justice Fair is also grounded firmly in fun.

“One lady told me — I couldn’t believe this — that the fair is her favorite day of the year. And I’m going, ‘Really, better than Christmas?’ And she said yes!” said Kay Ellison, one of the event organizers.

Returning for its 16th year, the fair will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday in Esther Short Park.

Almost 100 local community groups will participate, many that champion causes such as protecting the environment or fighting hunger and homelessness.

If You Go

What: The Vancouver Peace and Justice Fair.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. DIY drum circle at 9 a.m.; electric vehicle test drives and rides from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Celtinalia at 10:10 a.m.; Sikh prayer and music at 11:05 a.m.; Portland Lesbian Choir at 11:35 a.m.; Traveling Day Society at noon; The Slope at 12:35 p.m.; Tamding Tsetan at 1:45 p.m.; Maharaja Bhangra dancers at 2:20 p.m.; Vancouver Master Chorale at 3:10 p.m.
Where: Esther Short Park, Columbia and West Eighth streets, Vancouver.
Admission: Free.
Contact:www.vancouverpeaceandjusticefair.org

Entertainment includes Tibetan song, bhangra dancing, peace hero re-enactors and electric car rides. Start by grabbing a passport from the main booth and collect stamps from 30 of the participating booths as you go, which can then be converted into prizes for all ages.

And if winning things is your jam, electric vehicle organizer Tracy Ceravolo would love to get you into an electric car. There’s a drawing for a Chuck’s gift card in it if you do.

Cars will be available for test drives and ride-alongs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“It’s all owners, volunteering their time to bring their electric vehicles down and talk about why they love electric vehicles so much,” said Ceravolo, who is herself the proud owner of a Nissan Leaf. “The more people who get in these cars, the more likely the next car they buy is going to be electric.”

The fair will also host re-enactors portraying 12 different historical celebrities, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Harriet Tubman.

Sonya Norton, who coordinates the re-enactors, will be strolling Esther Short Park in the guise of Eleanor Roosevelt. Since the sash bearing Roosevelt’s name was available from last year’s fair, the decision to portray her was easy.

“All I have to do is get some pearls, practice pulling in my lower lip, and read everything she ever wrote,” Norton said with a laugh.

Jokes aside, Norton passionately believes in the ideals Roosevelt supported. “She believed that women had to have a place at the table,” Norton said. “That they had to be represented in every respect, because there would be no way for their children to grow up understanding that it takes a family to make a village, it takes villagers to make nations, it takes nations to make a world at peace.”

Diversity and inclusion are crucial elements of the fair, and cultural exchange is a draw for participants and attendees both.

“We fell in love with performing and expressing our culture to everyone, and sharing how beautiful it is,” said Sukhmoney Athwal, a third-year student at WSU and team captain of the Maharaja Bhangra Group.

Composed entirely of students, Athwal’s group will perform bhangra, a traditional Punjabi folk dance, for the second year at the fair. But the performance is about so much more than dance, she said.

“It provides a really good space for people to ask their questions without being judged, and get their information right from the source,” Athwal said.

That sense of sharing and community is at the heart of the Peace and Justice Fair.

“People get to come through and meet someone they wouldn’t otherwise get to meet,” Ellison said. “And I think that’s so important in our society today.”

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Columbian news assistant