ITS PURPOSES ARE TO PROMOTE understanding between cultures and to unite the community.
This Saturday, August 24, the International Festival Faribault will strive to do just that through song, dance, ethnic cuisine, children’s activities and more from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Central Park.
I’ve attended the fest, now in its eighth year, several times. Each time I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for other cultures and for the challenges new immigrants to my community face. That hasn’t necessarily come simply via sitting on a park bench and watching ethnic dancers or listening to ethnic music. Nor has it come from purchasing food unfamiliar to my Minnesota taste buds.
Rather, I have learned the most by interacting, one on one, with those whose skin color and backgrounds differ from mine.
Therein, in my opinion, lies the key to understanding and uniting. The ability to see each other as individuals breaks down barriers, dispels untruths, brings people together. International Festival Faribault offers an ideal setting in which to connect personally.
So to the residents of my community, I issue this challenge: Attend the festival and connect with at least one person you don’t know. If you’re the descendant of German immigrants, strike up a conversation with someone from Somalia. If your roots are in Mexico, introduce yourself to someone with Scandinavian ancestry. You get the idea.
In between that mingling, be sure to take in these scheduled activities:
10:30 – 11 a.m., Contemporary Spanish music by Miguel Tobar of Medford, also the program MC
11 – 11:30 a.m., Flag Ceremonies
11:30 – noon, Central American dances presented by Florecitas de Dios, a children’s dance group from Owatonna
noon – 1 p.m., Aztec dancers
1 – 2 p.m., Juggling act
2 – 4 p.m., Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo from Owatonna shows selected creatures.
2 – 3 p.m., Contemporary, gospel, pop and country music by Edy Valentine of Faribault
3 – 3:30 p.m., Somali dancers from the Twin Cities
3:30 p.m., breaking of pinatas and end of silent auction
Besides all of that, you’ll find a busy children’s area with a bouncy castle, games, face painting, hula hooping and more. One of the sweetest parts of this festival is to observe children, no matter their skin color, dress or culture, scrambling for candy from a broken pinata or sitting side by side at a picnic table coloring. They don’t care about cultural differences that seem to wedge into the minds of adults.
The United Way Red Truck will also be on the festival grounds with free children’s books to give away. I’m all for anything that encourages reading.
Come hungry as vendors will sell ethnic foods of Central America, Somali, Ethiopia, Norway, Germany and more. Craft vendors will also be on-site.
International Festival Faribault truly does offer all of us the opportunity to embrace one another, to understand and to unite.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling