The 28th International Festival begins Thursday in Worthington – The Globe
WORTHINGTON — The 28th annual Worthington International Festival kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 7 with a special program of immigrant conversations at the Memorial Auditorium.
The new location for the Thursday evening program allows the screening of “Five Years North”, a film that tells the coming-of-age story of Luis, a Guatemalan boy who arrived in New York alone and struggles to work , investigate, and evade the ICE agent patrolling his neighborhood.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion and dialogue hosted by Jesse Nitzschke and Tammy Makram. Prior to the film, attendees will be able to purchase ethnic food samples in the auditorium lobby.
On Friday, the outdoor part of the festival returns to the lawn of the Nobles County Government Center in downtown Worthington, with the opening ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m. Participants will be treated to a parade of flags and the national anthem, as well as several musicals. performances. One of the highlights of the evening will be the Aboriginal Fashion Show.
“I’m looking forward to Friday night’s fashion show,” said International Festival Committee Member Leann Zins Enninga. “We have a person from Mexico who is here visiting and she does (fashion shows) on a regular and professional basis. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for the fashion show.
Each year, the festival committee strives to attract new cultural artists and ensure that a variety of ethnic food vendors are set up along Third Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets.
“We always have a little different in terms of the food available, and we also have some of the great choices because they’re local,” Enninga said. “We want to emphasize that we have people in our community and we bring them all together.”
The performers also include a mix of local people and groups from outside the community.
“We’re thrilled to have Genet Abate – she’s one hell of a singer,” Enninga said. “She brings dancers and other musicians. I’m really excited to see what she can do.
Genet Abate will perform selections from several East African tribal communities.
Among the local performers is Gabriel Fueston, who works as a paralegal at Kivu Immigration Law in downtown Worthington.
“He’s going to rock ‘n roll with a Latin flair,” Enninga said. “He was born and raised here, but lived in Ecuador for 10 years.
“We also have a Mariachi band from St. Mary’s, and it’s going to be fun.”
For a full list of cultural artists performing on Fridays and Saturdays, see the Events Calendar.
“The goal with our cultural artists is to always have a variety of different cultures represented,” Enninga explained. “We can’t do Filipino music or Ecuadorian music every year. There will be Latinos, Africans, Asians and Europeans, making sure we touch all of these areas in some way.
Throughout the festival, visitors will be able to learn about and interact with other cultures through the ethnic educational stalls open on the festival grounds. In addition, various activities will be offered to children.
“One of the biggest things about the festival is that it’s family-centered,” Enninga said. “We intentionally decided to provide activities for young children and teenagers.”
The Nobles County Integration Collaborative is sponsoring some activities on Friday nights, and the Artmobile and Creative Healing Space will also offer programs for children and adults to participate in.
Although Enninga has been involved with the International Festival for years, there is a mix of people who volunteer and help plan the festival from year to year. Enninga said they needed more people to help them.
“We desperately need people to give us new ideas,” she said. Those interested in volunteering can register on the Worthingtoninternationalfestival.org website or visit the Worthington International Festival on Facebook.
The festival has grown enormously from what it was 28 years ago, when the first festival was essentially a potluck between new and old immigrant families in the community.
“We had wonderful ancestors and ancestors who had the foresight to see that we needed to get to know our new neighbors better,” Enninga said. “I am so grateful to those first people… who started this. We’ve built on it over the years and I think it’s really neat to see.
“I think they would be proud of how it has evolved and changed and become a premier event that not just Worthington but the whole region can be proud of,” she added.