International Festival kicks off todayWORTHINGTON — For the past 17 years, one of the constants in the city of Worthington had been its International Festival.
WORTHINGTON — For the past 17 years, one of the constants in the city of Worthington had been its International Festival.
This year is no different. What started as a potluck is now a full-fledged fair — complete with entertainment, food and fun — that begins today and continues through Saturday.
“As the community was starting to see some major changes in the demographics, a small group of people said ‘we don’t know our neighbors anymore,’” explained Leann Enninga, chair of the International Festival committee. “The way that is pretty common in Minnesota has been potlucks.”
By the second year, organizers wanted to incorporate a venue where people could make and serve food.
At its inception, the festival was hosted at the former Worthington Junior High School.
Included in the food fair were a soccer tournament and local performers.
“The soccer tournament was kind of the pivoting point for some other things,” Enninga said.
Once the number of festival-goers exceeded the capacity of the school building, Enninga said the committee shifted the venue to Buss Field for a few years.
“It was fun but it was very, very hot and dusty out there,” she said.
Around the same time, the planning committee added a downtown, Friday night agenda to its schedule. The success of the Friday night portion finally led to shifting the whole venue to downtown Worthington.
The committee tries to maintain a balance between returning acts and new ones.
“The Roe Family Singers were very well received last year so we have them back this year,” Enninga said.
Friday evening’s session typically features a new performer, with Trinidadian-influenced Cyril Paul and the Calypso Monarchs to wow the audience today.
Apart from the main stage, there will be a line up of children's activities Saturday.
“It makes it family friendly,” committee member Jessica Anderson said.
In addition to performances, there will be ethnic and food booths throughout the festival. Anderson said the new food additions will be ice cream, Indo-Chinese fare and gyros. Ethnic booths will give attendees an opportunity to learn about specific countries.
“The Guatemalan booth is going to be selling coffee that is coming directly from Guatemala,” Enninga said.
The complete schedule of events for the International Festival is as follows:
5.30 p.m. — Official welcome
6 p.m. — Cyril Paul and the Calypso Monarchs
7 p.m. — Talent show
8 p.m. — Cyril Paul and the Calypso Monarchs
10.30 a.m. — Local dance groups
10.45 a.m. — Eddy Bose
11 a.m. — Concord Singers
11.50 a.m. — Lao Women’s Association
12.30 p.m. — Roe Family Singers
1.30 p.m. — Concord Singers
2.15 p.m. —Voices of Sepharad
3.10 p.m. — Hayor Bibimma
4.15 p.m. — Voices of Sepharad
5.10 p.m. — Nicolas Carter and Son del Sur
6.15 p.m — Karen dancers
7 p.m. — Salsa del Soul