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No fair weather

Members of ISU's Taiwanese Student Association prepared a Taiwanese Bean Smoothie during the 2015 International Fair, held inside the Bone Student Center Brown Ballroom. The event is moving to a new campus home this weekend.

NORMAL — The April that keeps behaving like a March lion has pounced again.

The victim: Illinois State University's long-running International Fair, which for the first time in its history was planning to step out. 

As in outside.

After 46 years as a midwinter affair staged inside, the fair was moved to mid-April and relocated outdoors ... from the Bone Student Center's Brown Ballroom to Central Park, which is the patch of green located outside the East Campus Complex of Hewett and Manchester residence halls.

But by Tuesday, dire forecasts of another wet weekend sent the Saturday event back inside, but not far off: into the East Campus Complex's Vrooman Center, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission.

The annual multicultural celebration is presented by United International Association, a registered student organization that helps to coordinate other country- and region-specific student organizations at ISU.

According to Matt Schwab, United International Association adviser, the move from the Brown Ballroom was inspired by ongoing construction at the BSC, which has rendered it "not as accessible as it has been in the past."

The fair debuted, modestly, in 1971, as a mainly student-attended event in the Fell House lounge and then moved in 1982 to another residence hall lounge, in Walker Hall.

The fair's transformation into a community event occurred in 1985, when it moved to the far more expansive BSC Ballroom, which was its home for the next 32 years.

"We thought we would take advantage of the opportunity (the BSC construction) to experiment a little bit with the fair," says Schwab. "We were excited to get it outside and try something new."

By transplanting the fair from a midwinter indoor event to an outdoor spring fete seemed to fill that bill.

Though the forecast has stymied those plans, Schwab says the April berth is in place for 2019, as well as a second attempt at staging it outside.

What hasn't changed is the fair's intent and its offerings: multicultural displays and booths hosted by ISU student groups and community organizations, and featuring ethnic foods, gifts, cultural artifacts, clothing and artwork from around the globe.

All that, and traditional music, dance and storytelling, too.

"The spirit of the event hasn't changed," says Schwab. "We want to see if we can find some new and more exciting ways to present this much-beloved program. And we'll try it again next year."

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