Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part II: A close-up look at the International Festival Faribault August 25, 2015

Attendees watch the flag ceremony staged in the Central Park Bandshell.

Attendees watch the flag ceremony staged in the Central Park Bandshell.

THE FLAGS OF AMERICA, Sudan, Honduras, Ireland, Norway and 13 other countries, plus the United Nations, whipped in the wind Saturday afternoon at Faribault’s Central Park as folks gathered to celebrate my community’s cultural diversity.

A Cambodian

Cambodian refugee Sam Ouk, right, holds his country’s flag.

It was a day of connecting cultures through the International Festival Faribault.

Cambodian dancers.

Cambodian dancers.

An Aztec dancer

An Ollin Ayacaxtly Aztec Dancer.

An Aztec drummer.

An Aztec drummer.

Connecting through music and dance,

KIds (and some adults) created flags.

Kids (and some adults) created flags.

Attendees marked a world map with their countries of origin.

Attendees marked a world map with their countries of origin.

River Bend Nature Center showed up with several critters, including a snake and turtle.

River Bend Nature Center showed up with several critters, including a snake and turtle.

hands-on activities,

One of many vendors offering ethnic foods.

One of many vendors offering ethnic foods.

One of my favorite foods, a spicy wrapped Somali

One of my favorite foods, a spicy Somalian Samosa.

Vendors of Cambodian food.

Vendors of Cambodian food.

sampling of ethnic foods,

Cambodian art.

Cambodian art.

Supplies for face painting.

Supplies for face painting.

Lots of kids got their faces painted.

Lots of kids got their faces painted.

Cambodian art.

Cambodian art.

art,

The bouncy house, a popular place for kids.

The bouncy house, a popular place for kids.

The bouncy house was a popular spot for the youngsters.

Inside the bouncy house.

An impromptu dance.

An impromptu dance.

play

Author Joseph L. Mbele

Joseph L. Mbele, author and Associate Professor of English at St. Olaf College in Northfield, marketed his books and represented Tanzania at the festival.

and more.

Months-old Santiago was there with his family.

Months-old Santiago was there with his family.

This teen represented Somalia.

This teen represented Somalia.

Five-month-old Audrianna was at the fest with her parents and siblings.

Five-month-old Audrianna was at the fest with her parents and siblings.

From babes only months old to elders, this event drew all ages interested in meeting those people who call my southeastern Minnesota community home.

Kids run, adults mingle and all learn about each other.

Kids run, adults mingle and all learn about each other.

We are no longer mostly just the descendants of European immigrants. But rather, we are a mix of peoples—some from war-torn lands—who have settled here. Saturday’s festival offered the opportunity to learn more about one another.

Kids could color graphics on a map of Minnesota that highlights points of interest.

Kids could color graphics on a map of Minnesota that highlights points of interest.

And that is good. For when we learn, we begin to understand each other. We begin to see each other as neighbors living in this place called Faribault, Minnesota.

A steady flow of attendees

A steady flow of attendees browsed the merchandise, sampled food and more.

FYI: Please click here to read my first post about the 10th annual International Festival Faribault.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

How Faribault celebrated its cultural diversity on one day in August August 22, 2015

The flag ceremony featured national anthems and information about the countries from which Faribault residents have originated.

The flag ceremony featured national anthems and information about the countries from which Faribault residents have originated.

FRIENDS, FLAGS, FOOD, FUN…all melded in Faribault Saturday for the 10th annual International Festival Faribault.

Representing the country of Sudan.

Representing the country of Sudan.

Despite a fierce wind that ripped tent poles from the ground and hastened events along under a forecast of stormy weather, nothing could quell the enthusiasm for this gathering.

Friends

Friends

Friends

Friends

Festival, friends 3

Friends

Smiles abounded. Everywhere.

The festival was truly a family event for all cultures.

The festival was truly a family event for all cultures.

It was a feel-good family event,

Pork and plenty of cilantro.

Pork and plenty of cilantro.

an opportunity to try ethnic foods,

An Aztec dancer

A dancer from Ollin Ayacaxtly Aztec Dancers.

An Aztec dancer's costume details.

An Aztec dancer’s costume details.

Aztec dancers

Aztec dancers

a place to be entertained by skillful dancers,

Kids used markers to create flags from their native countries.

Kids used markers to create flags from their native countries.

an educational day,

Flags representing Faribault residents lined the sidewalk.

Flags representing Faribault residents lined the sidewalk.

Henna art

Henna art

Attendees watch the flag ceremony.

On stage and off, cultures mingled.

a mingling of the many cultures that call Faribault home.

A candid moment: just two boys on bikes.

A candid moment: just two boys on bikes.

I am grateful for festivals like this in my southeastern Minnesota community. When I see the togetherness, especially among the children, I have hope.

Beautiful henna art.

Beautiful henna art.

Hope that we can see beyond the color of our skin,

Just a kid having fun.

Just a kid having fun.

beyond the differences in language and dress and food to that which unites us—the fact that we are all people, just people.

FYI: Please check back for more photos from the International Festival Faribault.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Festival celebrates Faribault’s cultural diversity August 20, 2015

Adding to the artsy aspect of Car Cruise Night, was this colorful attire worn by Faribault

Faribault is becoming an ever diverse community as shown in this photo from a recent Friday evening Car Cruise Night. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 2015.

Neighbor meeting neighbor.

I like that phrase tagged by the International Festival Faribault planning committee to an event celebrating my community’s cultural diversity.

Conversation and connecting..., no other words necessary.

Conversation and connecting…, no other words necessary for this photo taken at a previous fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

When we personalize, then we begin to see beyond the differences. We see individuals rather than skin color or clothing. We hear the person and not the language. We connect. We become neighbors.

A member of Ollin Ayacaxtli dances at Faribault's International Market Day celebration.

A member of Ollin Ayacaxtly Aztec Dancers performs at a previous International Festival Faribault, Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, August 22, the Faribault community comes together in Central Park for this 10th annual celebration of diversity. International Festival Faribault aims to promote an understanding between cultures and to unite the community with music, dance, art, ethnic foods and merchandise.

A little girl stands on the opposite side of the group of children waiting to swing at the pinata.

A little girl stands on the opposite side of the group of children waiting to swing at the pinata during the 2012 festival. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo. I won first place for this image in the “personal heritage” category of the 2014 Faribault Heritage Days Photo Contest.

I’ve attended the festival numerous times and delight in this opportunity to meet others, to sample ethnic foods, to listen to music, to check out the art and more. My favorite has always been observing children gathered to break pińatas. It is then that I see the possibilities for Faribault. We can learn from these kids who care not about differences but rather are focused as one on a single goal.

On Saturday, let that goal be neighbor meeting neighbor.

A woman, without my prompting, took this mask from the table manned by Bashir Omar and Asher Ali and asked me to photograph her.

Art showcased by a vendor at the 2012 festival. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Here’s the International Festival Faribault entertainment schedule:

  • 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Steve Huber on acoustic guitar
  • 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.- Otto & Celia – Guatemalan singers on keyboard; Patti Letona – Guatemalan singer; and Eliana Tobar – El Salvadorian singer
  • 11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Selvin – Guatemalan dancer
  • 11:45 a.m. – noon – Children’s Dance Performance by Florecitas de Dios
  • noon – 1 p.m. – Ollin Ayacaxtly Aztec Dancers
  • 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Flag Ceremonies (national anthems and salutes)
  • 2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – South Sudanese music and dancers
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Cambodian dancers
  • 3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Hula Hoop Performance by Adrienne Lee
  • 3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Breaking of piñatas

FYI: Admittance to International Festival Faribault is free.

 

A close-up look at a Midsommar celebration June 25, 2012

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Picnicking, playing and celebrating in Way Park, Northfield, Minnesota, on Sunday evening.

WHEN YOU VIEW THIS SCENE, what do you see?

A bunch of people in a park on a summer evening, right?

A procession of celebrants parade toward a center area where a maypole will be placed and dancing will follow.

Here’s another photo from the same park, same June Sunday evening. But this is different. You notice flags and other festive details in what appears to be an organized parade.

And you would be right. Both photos were taken at the annual Scandinavian Midsommar celebration at Way Park in Northfield and hosted by Friends of Way Park, the Northfield Swedish Club and Sons of Norway. That second image shows a parade leading up to dancing around a maypole.

It’s easy, when a mass of people gather like this, to miss the details. But it is the details which define our lives, our personalities, our days, or celebrations.

I looked for those details at Northfield’s Midsommar fest and, as always, delight in sharing my photographic observations with you.

I’d encourage you, always, to see and appreciate the details in life whether you’re Scandinavian, German, Latino or any heritage in between.

The Norwegian flag had a prominent place in the parade.

It took several good men to carry the maypole to the center of the festivities.

Lola, who is 100 percent Swedish, brought a mug from her ancestral home of Branas, filled it with coffee and munched on Krumkake (a Swedish sweet treat). Branas is a well-known ski area.

Weaving wreaths from willow and flowers proved a popular activity.

Seven-year-old Jordyn, who is part Scandinavian, part German, posed for photos after finishing her floral wreath.

Bella, 10, tries on the wreath she just crafted.

Grace, 9, creates a celebratory head wreath.

Midsommar celebrants arrived at Way Park with picnic baskets.

They arrived by bike and foot and in vehicles, proud of their heritage, as noted by this Norwegian flag on a bike trailer.

Even the old-fashioned wooden folding chairs had a Scandinavian connection. They were, I was informed, the chairs upon which attendees of the early St. Olaf College (a Northfiled college with a Norwegian heritage) Christmas concerts sat.

Wreaths and Midsommar, for all ages.

CLICK HERE to read an earlier blog post about Midsommar in Northfield.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Welcoming summer at the Scandinavian Midsommar celebration in Northfield June 24, 2012

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A sign welcomes visitors to the annual Scandinavian Midsommar celebration at Way Park on Northfield’s west side. The event has been going on here for about 20 years, following the Scandinavian tradition of celebrating the end of a long winter and the beginning of summer, typically on the day of the summer solstice.

THE SCANDINAVIANS (and non-Scandinavians) of Northfield (and elsewhere) welcomed summer to this southeastern Minnesota city with music and dance, games and picnic dinners on a perfect Sunday summer evening in Way Park.

Being 100 percent German and all, I’d never witnessed the tradition of celebrating the summer solstice.

Perhaps you haven’t either.

So join me for the festivities via this photo essay. Feel the hint of a summer breeze. Listen to the music singing from violins and accordions. Weave wisps of willows into wreaths accented by blossoms of daisies and clover, bee balm and coral bells.

Bite into a slice of juicy watermelon or a traditional Scandinavian open-faced sandwich.

Feel the anticipation of young and old alike as they line up to parade around the park, up and down the steps to cluster around the maypole.

Pick up your feet and dance. Dance away the memories of winter as you welcome summer.

The Midsommar parade, led by musicians, begins around the north end of Way Park.

Dancing around the maypole with a sun ball, from an earlier game, resting nearby.

For those who didn’t know the dances, instructions were printed on poster board.

Those who can no longer dance simply watched and enjoyed.

Before the dancing, the musicians gathered under shade trees to entertain the crowd that dined and made wreaths, visited…

Eleanor Croone, left, and her husband, Al, brought a picnic lunch and spread it out on an authentic Swedish tablecloth accented by a daisy bouquet. They are, says, Al, 127 percent Swedish. The Swedes, he says, just pull off the road for picnics. Eleanor has an authentic Swedish costume but, since it’s made of wool, can’t wear it on a warm summer evening.

Ten-year-old Bella weaves a wreath for her head with willows and flowers.

Adults and kids try to keep “the sun” in the sky as they celebrate the summer solstice, several days after the fact.

CHECK BACK for more photos of the annual Scandinavian Midsommar celebration in Northfield.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A closer look at St. John’s Germanfest October 2, 2011

Kassandra and the goat that would soon be hers.

IN MY OPINION, Kim Keller rates as a pretty easy-going mom. I mean, she let her 10-year-old daughter bring a goat home from Germanfest. Honestly, if you were a kid, wouldn’t you want Kim for your mom?

So here’s how I found out about this goat thing. I was wandering the church grounds at St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, last Sunday afternoon during Germanfest searching for photo ops.

I followed a girl leading a wisp of a goat, a kid (not the girl) which seemed a bit stubborn and independent as goats are wont to be. This wasn’t Kim’s daughter and I wasn’t having any luck capturing a photo I liked.

Then along came Kassandra, Kim’s daughter, with a bottle of milk. The goat, which apparently wasn’t all that hungry, didn’t seem too interested in drinking. But Kassandra pursued the goat and I pursued the goat and Kassandra until we both got what we wanted: her the goat, me the photo.

Kim took it all in stride—said it was just another animal to add to the family’s menagerie.

Another goat in the Germanfest petting zoo.

A volunteer dressed in an ethnic German costume tends a petting zoo bunny.

Geese and other fowl were popular petting zoo attractions.

IF YOU’RE A REGULAR FOLLOWER of Minnesota Prairie Roots, you should have figured out by now that I pay attention to detail. You’ll read that in my writing, see it in my photography.

I don’t view situations and scenes like most folks. I’m constantly searching for a new angle from which to shoot a photo or tell a story.

I engage my senses, even though one of them, my hearing, is not what it once was due to sudden sensory hearing loss (and now near-deafness) in my right ear. But I did hear Craig Keller comment from the Germanfest dance floor, as I aimed my camera toward the dancers, that this would be on the internet.

So, Craig, just because you said that, here you are, on the internet.

That's Craig, dressed in his lederhosen, dancing with his partner on the right. On the left is Amy's mom, Annette. The Stuttgart Three is performing.

I saw these artsy music stands and thought, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen something like these.” They jogged my memory of old-time wedding dances in town halls, the chicken dance, dollar dance, polka until you can’t polka any more…

I’VE COORDINATED SOME major public events in my life, namely a school book festival and an art show at my church, several times, not to mention more youth group fundraisers than I care to remember.

But one thing I refuse to do is coordinate anything that involves food. Although I cook and bake, I do not particularly enjoy cooking. I love to bake, but seldom bake because then, you know, I eat the baked goods, which I don’t need.

Now, after that rambling paragraph, let’s get to the point. I am in awe of people like the volunteers at St. John’s United Church of Christ who prepare enough food to feed the multitudes, this year around 700.

One of the many volunteer worker lists I saw posted in the fellowship hall area.

Long-time church member and volunteer Elsie Keller prepares German potato salad.

ONE OF THE BEST PLACES to discover artistic talent, I’ve learned, is at silent auctions. Honestly, look what I found at Germanfest.

No words needed.

Woodcarvings for sale at the silent auction.

Inside St. John's sanctuary, homemade quilts blanketed the pews. They were not for sale. Each church family was asked to bring a quilt for display along with the story behind it. Up front, three women demonstrated stitching techniques.

I DON’T KNOW how many Germanfest attendees paused to examine the German books and documents displayed in the church narthex. But I’m always interested in such items because not only am I 100 percent German and interested in “old stuff,” but I once considered majoring in German in college (which means I would not have become a writer; I think I made the right choice).

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

A Deutsche document from St. John's.

FINALLY, BECAUSE I CAN, I wanted to show you this photo of pumpkins at the farmer’s market section of Germanfest.

To be truthful, though, it wasn’t the pumpkins that interested me as much as the antique table. Those legs caught my eye and I wanted to throw that checkered tablecloth right off the table top and slide my hand across the worn wood.

Country store pumpkins on that old table I noticed.

THE NEXT TIME you’re out and about, I challenge you to notice the details.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling