International Festival draws large crowdWORTHINGTON — Thousands of people gathered on the Nobles County Government Center lawn Friday and Saturday to enjoy the International Festival, tasting food, purchasing gifts, watching dances and listening to music from the many cultures of Worthington.
By: Kari Lucin, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Thousands of people gathered on the Nobles County Government Center lawn Friday and Saturday to enjoy the International Festival, tasting food, purchasing gifts, watching dances and listening to music from the many cultures of Worthington.
“I think it’s good, it’s beautiful,” said Kahala Johnson of Worthington, who attended the International Festival for the first time this year. “I think it’s good that everyone can come together like this and learn about each other’s cultures.”
Mu Gung Hwa, a Twin Cities dance academy and performance group, was one of the favorites of the day, with their colorful traditional Korean costumes, intense drum rhythms and graceful dancing.
“It’s really interesting,” said Leslie Jiminez of Worthington, who attended the festival with her aunt, Veronica Villegas, also of Worthington. “Their dancing, it’s really nice.”
Priscilla and Clair Williams of Worthington also appreciated the Korean dancers, though Clair was careful to note that Leroy Larson and the Scandinavian Ensemble was another major favorite.
Dozens of people danced to the music of Kabtamu Gizaw, an Ethiopian group, and nine-person mariachi band Flor y Canto was a big hit with the crowd Saturday too.
The International Festival turned 16 years old this year, and Leann Enninga, the chairman of the International Festival Committee, estimated that thousands of people attended.
“We certainly were a little nervous about what the weather was going to do, but the weather could not be better,” Enninga said. “When I look out and see the different kinds of people (here), it’s really quite amazing to me.”
Aside from the continuous performances on the main stage, featuring everything from Celtic rockers Highland Reign, local dancers Six Steps Hip Hop, Karen and Lao dancers to Oromo and Ethiopian dancers and a Mariachi band, the festival boasted 11 food vendors, five artisan booths and four displays featuring information about different cultures.
“Kids’ stuff is doing really well,” said Julia Neidert of German Specialty Imports, a Prior Lake business that sells “everything German you can ever want.”
Ben and Becky Wipf of Jackson hadn’t planned on going to the International Festival, but when they heard about it while going camping, they decided to check it out with their children, Sarah, 5, Lydia, 3, and Isaac, 1. The Wipfs enjoyed the music and the fun of the festival.
There were also arts and crafts for children and a petting zoo offered by local 4-H’ers, which featured a tiny piglet, several goats, a few dogs, kittens, and bunnies.
New Okelle, 5, especially enjoyed holding a kitten — even after one had inadvertently scratched him.
Stephanie Mejia, 7, of Worthington, also enjoyed cuddling the fuzzy young cats.
“I want a cat, but I’m allergic to them,” Mejia explained.