IN A SOUTHERN MINNESOTA COMMUNITY which is growing ever more diverse, the need for understanding among cultures seems not an option, but a must.
A Somali family waits to cross a street in downtown Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.
If we’re to live and work and play in the same town, then we need to meet one another, to educate ourselves, to be open to the differences that define us.
International Festival Faribault presents an opportunity to do just that from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. this Saturday, August 23. Via music, ethnic food, art, children’s activities and more, the cultures of our diverse community will be showcased and celebrated in Central Park.
Several Latinos lead in singing of Mexico’s national anthem during a previous International Festival Faribault at Faribault’s Central Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
At the hour-long flag ceremony, which begins at 11:30 a.m., the flags and national anthems of 18 nations, from the U.S. to Somalia, South Sudan, Mexico and more will be presented. It’s a moving ceremony that visually impresses the diversity of those who call Faribault and the surrounding area home.
A Mexican dish wrapped in banana leaves. My husband and I tried this at a past fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
And then there are food booths, where you can sample ethnic dishes from countries like Somalia, Honduras, Norway and more.
Lul Abdi shows off beautiful wood crafts from Kenya and Somalia during a past fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
Others will vend native art.
Served at the 2011 fest: Guatemalan chuchitos– chicken, corn and salsa wrapped in a corn husk. You’ll find numerous vendors offering a variety of authentic international foods. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
I’ve attended this festival several times and each time have left with a better understanding of my neighbors. The key is to visit with folks who are from a country other than your own. Don’t just buy a chuchito or a tamale or some other food and walk away. Chat it up with the vendor.
At a past fest, I spoke with then Faribault High School seniors Shukri Aden, left, and Khadra Muhumed. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
I am convinced that personal connections are the key to understanding and overcoming the barriers that separate cultures.
Conversing and connecting at a previous fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
Long-time residents and newbies alike must reach out to one another to bridge the gaps of misunderstandings and preconceived notions that exist. And they do. Exist. I hear the prejudicial comments way too often. We must learn to respect one another.
One of my favorite fest portraits. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
It is the kids who give me the most hope. They don’t seem to notice the differences in skin color, language and culture. And they are a primary focus of International Festival Faribault. The local United Way will give away children’s books. There will be a children’s dance performance and a bouncy tent.
Happy children all focused on the same goal: breaking the pinata near the Central Park Bandshell. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
But the highlight, in my opinion, is the breaking of piñatas at 3:30 p.m. I’ve witnessed this event several times with children of many ethnic backgrounds standing side-by-side. Their smiles are wide. And so are those of the adults observing how piñatas can bring together cultures. Together.
A member of Ollin Ayacaxtli dances at a past fest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
Here’s a schedule of festival events:
10 – 10:45 a.m.: Otto & Celia, Hispanic singers on keyboard
10:45 – 11 a.m.: Selvia, Guatemalan dancer
11 – 11:30 a.m.: Ollin Ayacaxtli Aztec Dancers
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Flag ceremony
12:30 – 1 p.m.: Children’s dance performance by Florecitas de Dios
1 – 2 p.m.: River Mill Band performs (combination of newgrass and folk)
2 – 3 p.m.: South Sudanese music and dancers
3 – 3:30 p.m.: Hula hoop performance by Adrienne Lee & Jugglers
3:30 p.m.: Breaking of piñatas and end of silent auction
A little girl stands on the opposite side of the group of children waiting to swing at the pinata. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
Additionally, non-profits will be at the festival to focus on immigrants. Rice County Public Health will give guided tours of the Faribault Farmer’s Market (also happening at the park during morning hours) in Somali and Spanish. The American Association of University Women will offer children’s activities. HealthFinders Collaborative, the Faribault Diversity Coalition, Greater Upper Nile Community Services & Development and more will also be at the fest. A silent auction features about $3,000 in donated items.
To learn more about International Festival Faribault, click here. And then click here.
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling