History And Heritage Fair Highlights Diversity Of Our Community


The history and Heritage Fair hosted on March 31st allowed students to show off clothing from their own culture

Joshua Geaughan, staff reporter and news editor

There is nothing more important to life than food. Food is what brings most of us together and builds a strong community. When we share our own culture through our food, it’s sure to get a lot of people talking. The History and Heritage Fair, organized by the history department, is a festival devoted to celebrating culture through food, music, and art. Following a tradition from 2014, and for the first time since covid, the History and Heritage fair was hosted at school on March 31st. 

When walking into the school the smell was the first thing you could notice, a mix of a bunch of different spices gave the usually cold and modern school building a sense of comfort. Attendees were greeted at the door by a display of colorful trifold boards created by students made throughout the year in history classes. From there, the dishes of students and their families came into view as bowls, plates, and pitchers of food many students had never heard of nor tried before. 

Some notable favorite dishes are a collection of Rwandan dishes put together by Franza Mazimpaka that masterfully crafted doughy Ugali with a meat stew bursting with flavor. Not only was it something I wasn’t expecting to like, but I also wasn’t expecting to get seconds and come back for more.

Likewise the Al Nuwab twins shared their culture with rice pudding and dolma. Dolma was a dish that if I saw it anywhere else I would have probably been completely uninterested. I’m not the biggest fan of heavy and dense food, but I trusted the twins and from the first bite I was blown away. What appeared to be a really greasy and heavy dish was completely the opposite, the slight tang of the grape leaves mixed well with the rice inside as the flavors I was expecting the dish to hit gave way to something way lighter and full of subtle flavors that I’d never experienced anywhere else. 

The fair featured plenty more to do than just fill your stomach. There was a constant stream of chess games running throughout the night and a whole area with music and dancing, allowing people to show their culture through dance and song as well. The atmosphere was not as busy as most people were expecting, even with a rather large crowd there was enough space for everyone to move around and converse with their friends. Even as other years had about 400 people involved, the smaller and more intimate collection of around 100 festival-goers this year meant that no one was crowding around or missing out on the food offered. There were plenty of opportunities to talk to people about their dishes and what they meant to their families and that added a fair amount of warmth between everyone involved, it wasn’t just about eating good food. 

History Department Chair Mr. Svec has always been part of the school community ever since he went here himself. As a teacher he’s been involved in athletes and the arts but always felt more could be done to highlight the culture and diversity of the school.  “We don’t do enough to highlight the great work that our kids do academically… And how can I show the community the magic that is created here? That’s the idea, to see the magic that happens here on a daily basis,” explained Mr. Svec. The History and Heritage fair is not just created to be a vessel of appreciation for the cultures of our school, but also to tap into the intercultural magic that occurs in our hallways, not only highlighting our differences and different perspectives but also showing why our community’s culture is so strong.

This reflects in the reactions of the students who went. “It was bigger than expected, a lot more people than I thought,” said junior Yazzy Torres. That sentiment was not only spoken by Yazzy but by the majority of the students who went. The sheer amount of food and families surprised many people who were expecting a small turnout, only leading to the magic feeling created in the room. Overall the History and Heritage fair is quickly becoming one of the best things that our town has to offer as it captures the magic of the town so well, so when the H and H fair rolls around next year, stop by for a second and let yourself be overcome with the magic of West Springfield.