Local ethnic festival planned for August

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 4/04/01.

Paynesville will be hosting a new festival this August. Spearheaded by the Human Rights Commission, a Festival of Ethnic Traditions is planned for Saturday, Aug. 18.

The cityŐs Human Rights Commission has worked for years on the cause of inclusiveness and learning tolerance. Its efforts have been particularly strong in the schools, where it has sponsored speakers and an essay contest.

This festival will bring the message of ethnic diversity to the general community.

Helping organize the festival are the Chamber of Commerce, the Paynesville Area Jaycees, the Crow River Trail Guards, the Paynesville Historical Society, Paynesville Area Transit, the R.O.S.E. Center, the Paynesville Area Center, and the Paynesville Ministerial Association.

The event will be held in conjunction with the ChamberŐs annual Craft and Market Day, though in separate locations. The artists and sellers locate themselves on the downtown streets, but the festival will be taking place at the Paynesville Historical Museum on the east end of town.

The transit bus will be shuttling people from Craft and Market Days downtown to the ethnic festival at the museum.

The festival is modeled after similar ones in St. Cloud and Pelican Rapids, which have much more diverse populations than Paynes-ville so far. The Human Rights Commission is working on tolerance in advance to smooth the way for a more diverse community.

The festival should start at 10 a.m. and formal events should end around 1 p.m. The focus has been on a small, well-done event, said Joe Voss, a festival organizer who also was instrumental in starting the Human Rights Commission.

A program should feature speakers on the history of ethnicity in the community and entertainment, including singing and dancing ethnic groups. The local eighth grade essay winner will also be asked to read his or her winning essay at the program.

The museum will also be open that day, so festival goers can browse the history of the area through its exhibits. The cost of entry will be $1 instead of the normal fee of $2.

Another important aspect of the festival will be food. Local organizations have been contacted about making and selling an ethnic food. Five vendors have confirmed so far, with a menu of tacos, fry bread, bratwurst and sauerkraut, and apple strudel. The organizing committee is looking for more food vendors, including more main food items.

In lieu of the free meal at its Customer Appreciation Day, the Chamber has donated $700 to the vendors to help cover their costs and provide free samples to the public. These vendors will have small portions as samples and larger portions for sale.

Logistics for the event are still being planned. Things like tables and chairs, parking, and the final program still need to be arranged.

Contact Voss at 320-243-3644 for more information.

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