WORTHINGTON — Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no International Festival in Worthington this summer.
The 27th annual event had been scheduled for July 9-12, but the organization’s board has opted to cancel this year and plan for new festivities in 2021. The decision to cancel the festival had been in the works for about a month, chair Chansouk Duangapai explained.
“We first discussed the possibility of canceling the festival on April 13, when we had our monthly meeting back then,” Duangapai said. “We were going to hold out to make a final decision on June 15, but with the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases here in Nobles County, I decided to bring it up for another discussion on May 11.”
It was on that date that festival board members voted without dissent to cancel this year’s event.
“We did not seek advice directly from others,” Duangapai added. “We were going off recommendations made by the governor, Minnesota Department of Public Health and the CDC. We also looked at what other events were doing, such as the Regatta and other regional festivals. Since their events were canceled, we figured it would be in the best interest of our community's health and safety to do the same.”
Duangapai noted that no alternatives to a traditional International Festival were seriously discussed. There was brief talk of a virtual concert, he said, but “since our festival focuses on more than just music and on folk and traditional art as a whole and of people coming together, I don't believe any other alternative to the traditional way would be effective or fit in with our mission,” he explained.
The International Festival board is considering involvement in King Turkey Day in some capacity, Duangapai said, including a possible float in its parade, but details have yet to be finalized.
Specific plans for the 2021 festival have yet to be made, Duangapai indicated, as the decision to cancel this year’s event was just made and the board meets merely once per month. The board intends to contract again with the artists and performers who were already set to participate in 2020.
“Some of the performers who confirmed were Duniya, an African drumming group; the Ethnic Dance Theater, who performs at the Festival of Nations; and Tou Ger Xiong, a Hmong comedian and motivational speaker,” Duangapai said. “We try to bring different types of music and art to Worthington every year, so we will offer them the option to return and can only hope that they agree to. This doesn't pertain to only our mainstage performers, but to our cultural, ethnic and children's activities artists as well.”