A powwow held this weekend at the Franklin County Fairgrounds will honor and celebrate veterans.

A powwow held this weekend at the Franklin County Fairgrounds will honor and celebrate veterans.

According to the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio, which sponsors the powwow, war veterans traditionally open the event by leading dancers into the center of an arena to start each day with prayer and a flag-raising.

The powwow will include drum groups, dancing in regalia, contests, arts and crafts, and food such as fry bread.

Ross Davidson will be one of the participants in the powwow. Davidson, 73, lives in Plain City and has served in the U.S. Navy and as a police chief. He is also a maker of dance regalia, an expert at beading and quilting who has been accepted into the Native American community.

"Modern-day powwows as we know them began just before or shortly after World War II in Oklahoma," Davidson said, "then they spread like wildfire." Veterans are honored, he said, because Native Americans have a long history of serving in the United States military, and they have a high rate of volunteers.

"It's a family event," Davidson said of the powwow. "We get to see people we haven't seen for a while, and meet new ones. That's what it's about a celebration of life."

The 29th annual Selma Walker Memorial Powwow will be held Saturday-Monday, May 28-30. The gates open at 11 a.m., with dancers entering at 1 and 7 p.m. (1 p.m. Monday). Admission is $7, or $3 for senior citizens and students; or $15 for a weekend pass. Children age 5 and under are admitted free. Bringing a chair is recommended. The powwow will end at 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 5 p.m. Monday.

"Having the powwow at the fairgrounds in Hilliard brings a lot of culture and diversity to our community and it also brings in visitors," said Christy Clark, Destination Hilliard executive director. "Last year, we had 50 hotel rooms that individuals who participated in the powwow stayed at, so that generated quite a bit of income for us."

Usually, the powwows are held at the fairgrounds on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. However, those aren't the only events that go on at the Fairgrounds besides the eight-day Franklin County Fair.

According to Destination Hilliard, the fairgrounds hosted 134 events last year in addition to the fair, including the powwows, auctions, gun shows, horse shows, Jaguar shows, model train shows, team penning and 4-H events.

"I do not believe people realize how many events are held throughout the year at the Franklin County Fairgrounds," said Tim Shade, Franklin County Agricultural Society secretary/manager, which owns the fairgrounds, in a statement. "We have events throughout the year during the week and on the weekends that draw people from all over the United States."