Susan Chase baked coconut bread and brewed Costa Rican coffee yesterday, hoping fair-goers would sample South American and Caribbean culture at the New Windsor Service Center's annual International Festival.
"The food is good, and the international flavor here is wonderful," said Ms. Chase, dressed in colorful Bangladeshi attire. "It gives people a chance to get a taste of other cultures."
About 4,000 people attended the third annual fair, sponsored by the New Windsor Service Center. The fair promotes multicultural appreciation by celebrating different traditions through food, crafts, dance, drama and music, said Terri Meushaw, a festival spokeswoman.
"The New Windsor Service Center works with many different countries, and many of them are represented here," Ms. Meushaw said. "We want people to come and have fun and to learn about different cultures. I think it's particularly important in these times of such upheaval."
The center, run by the Church of the Brethren, helps the needy overseas by distributing clothing, blankets and medical supplies, purchasing and marketing craft items and serving as a transit facility for refugees.
Ms. Meushaw said the event has grown in the past three years, attracting fair-goers from Washington, Virginia and Pennsylvania. About 3,000 attended last year.
The daylong event had about 40 food and crafts vendors, entertainment ranging from Indonesian dance groups to Scottish bagpipers, and children's activities.
Fair-goers could taste food from Nicaragua, Iran, Thailand, Jamaica, Israel, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and China or choose pottery, jewelry or other crafts from the Ukraine, Kashmir or Africa.
Among the craft vendors was Vasyl Linde, who demonstrated making the red and black Venezuelan masks used to celebrate a Catholic holiday in many small towns in his South American homeland.
"People in the small towns wear these masks and dance around the church," said Mr. Linde, who now lives in Washington Grove, Md. "When the priests open the doors to the church, the devils fall down, and Mass begins."
Mr. Linde makes his masks out of papier-mache, newspapers andcardboard. They sell for $60 and up.
Members of the Sisterhood of Beth Shalom sold meat and potato knishes to raise money to build a Hebrew school in Carroll County.
"We have no building for a Hebrew school," said president Rachelle Hurwitz. "We're here to get new members, too."
Among the fair-goers was Frances Shaub of Altoona, Pa., who drove about three hours to attend the festival. The Church of the Brethren in Altoona supports many activities of the center, she said.
"I wanted to come down and see the operation," she said. "It's really an interesting place."