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Annual International Festival is this weekend

WORTHINGTON — A celebration of diversity will take place Friday night and Saturday during Worthington’s annual International Festival.

“Our mission is to promote an understanding the cultures we have in our community and other cultures as well,” said Leann Enninga, chair of the International Festival Committee. “It’s a way to get along with other people better, because when we know people better, we can get along better.”

The festival, which takes place on the courtyard of the Nobles County Government Center, has been celebrated in Worthington for 21 straight years now. There will be a few new events added this year, all free of charge.

“It’s important to remember that we are a volunteer and a non-profit, and everything is absolutely free,” said Enninga.

One new event will be seen by attendees through the lens of Wing Young Huie.

“He’s an internationally known photographer,” Enninga said. “He will be presenting a way of documenting our diversity through photos. There will be an exhibit, and he will also be doing a presentation on stage, showing the photos and talking a little bit about what this project has entailed in the community.”

Main stage events will begin Friday night with the music of Malamanya, a six-member band from Minneapolis that plays traditional rhythms and melodies of Latin American and Caribbean music.

“Malamanya should be very good, even though the name doesn’t slip off of the tongue very easily,” Enninga joked. “It will be very good listening.”

Throughout Friday evening and Saturday, the ever-popular talent showcase will also be thrown in the mixing bowl of sights and sounds to enjoy in the courtyard.

“We have in the last several years had a talent contest, and we recently changed it to a talent showcase,” Enninga explained. “We held auditions previously, and the top 10 will perform at the festival, interspersed with the professional performers,” she said.

Another fan favorite of the International Festival are the food vendors.

“All of the food booths will be there on Saturday — I think there will be 12. Some we have seen before, some of them are new, and in any case, they are all delicious,” Enninga said with a laugh.

Besides food vendors, there will also be local and international artisans at the festival as well.

“We will be having some different artisans here selling their work, like flags and other things,” Enninga said. “There will be a lady here who makes her own purses, and it will be an opportunity to see where and how these people live.”

The Daily Globe will also be giving away 260 pairs of flip-flops on Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. The flip-flops were initially meant to be distributed last month during the Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival, but inclement weather intervened.

“That will be so interesting to see,” Enninga said. “The flip-flops will go to the first 260 children that come, and I’m sure they will go very quickly because a lot of children come to the festival. It should be exciting.”

Saturday will also feature the start of children’s events, which will include many cultural games and activities.

Enninga invites the entire community to come out and support the festival.

“We are all volunteers and we are a non-profit, so we really rely on community support,” she said. “This event is something that you can’t take in in only an hour — you really need to come for several. You can come and go as you please.

“Bring a lawn chair or a blanket, or even just sit out on the picnic tables, but come out and enjoy the music, food and culture.”

For more information on the International Festival, or to volunteer to help, contact the Worthington Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919.