The Pickerington Local School District and myriad partners once again will showcase cultures represented in and around the district with hopes of nurturing better understanding among people of diverse backgrounds during the second CommUNITY Fair.

The fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, in Pickerington High School Central, 300 Opportunity Way.

Much like last year, the event is open to people of all ages and free to the public.

In fact, organizers said they hope people from all corners of the community, and maybe even folks from outside the district, attend to see local student talent on display and learn from performances, presentations, games -- and, perhaps, even each other.

"When we launched this event in 2016, we saw it as a way to help celebrate the rich diversity that exists within our community," said Erik Barbon, Pickerington Schools English Language coordinator. "By sharing the diverse and rich cultures that make up Pickerington, we nurture understanding.

"This also opens doors to help everyone feel included in the schools and community.

"The event was so well-received in 2016 that we decided to bring it back as an annual activity."

This year's fair will include performances from elementary students, Irish step-dancers, Laotian dancers, a fashion show and an Ethiopian dance.

Through its partnership with more than 20 local and regional organizations, businesses and state agencies, there will be opportunities for visitors to gain information and services for everything related to public libraries, medicine and legal assistance.

Additionally, the fair will offer learning activities, such as games and crafts from throughout the world and video presentations from high school students.

"The fair spotlights and celebrates diversity within Pickerington and unites families and the community through educational presentations, networking opportunities, performances, games and crafts," said David Ball, the school district's public relations director.

"The fair extends an invitation to local families and community members to participate in the fair by showcasing their culture and heritage, providing educational experiences to students and members of the community."

Ball said the district recognizes that celebrating diversity in Pickerington is part of its mission, and that the CommUNITY Fair helps create an environment of inclusion for all the cultures in the community.

According to the Pickerington Schools website, the district had 10,210 students during the 2015-16 school year.

The Ohio Department of Education 2015-16 state report card also showed diversity within the district.

The report showed 61.8 percent of Pickerington students were identified as white, 22.6 percent were black/African American, 5 percent were Hispanic/Latino, 3.2 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander and 0.2 percent were American Indian/Alaskan native. Additionally, 7.2 percent were identified as being represented by two or more races.

Barbon said the fair is meant to entertain and educate.

"Students love to showcase their work in a regular school setting, but with this event it gives students and families from different cultural backgrounds a chance to showcase, entertain and educate the Pickerington community," he said.

"The CommUNITY (Fair) event is geared towards different cultures, ethnicities and religions from around the world," Barbon said.

"Our hope is through gaining knowledge and learning respect for the diversity within our community and throughout the world, planet Earth will become a more peaceful, kind and accepting place. Knowledge is power."

Barbon said he hopes the fair can springboard the district's goals of providing access, resources and networking for all stakeholders living within the district.

That includes exposing people to organizations, services and ideas that can help them individually, and connect them with opportunities for growth.

"Ultimately, we would like to serve as a resource center for our parents and surrounding community," he said. "We believe the path to becoming such a pillar in the community resides in the establishing of strong community partners.

"We will use this event as a starting point for providing our families and the community with continuing access to the resources offered through each partner's service."

To learn more about the fair visit: www.facebook.com/PickeringtonCommUNITYFair/ or gor to the web site pickerington.k12.oh.us/unity/.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate