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|Paynesville Press - August 15, 2001|
First-ever ethnic festival is Saturday
The first-ever Festival of Ethnic Traditions - to be held on Saturday on the grounds of the Paynesville Area Museum - intends to present information about ethnicity and human rights in a fun fashion.|
"We don't want to be preachers at all," said Joe Voss, the chairman of the city of Paynesville's Human Rights Commission, which led the organizational efforts for the festival. "We want to do this in a manner that people can enjoy."
The first-time event will be held in conjunction with the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce's Craft and Market Days. The 20th annual Chamber event will have vendors on the sidewalks in downtown Paynesville from 9 a.m to 4 p.m.
The Festival of Ethnic Traditions starts at 10 a.m. and will feature ethnic music and dancing, ethnic foods, and ethnic history. The program features Native American, Irish, Scandinavian, Bavarian, Scottish, and Mexican music. Originally, the program was not planned to last so long, but the wealth of talented performers kept making the program longer, said Voss.
The festival is intended to be free flowing. The emcees - Dr. Ray Lindeman and Lynne Jacobson - will be talking about ethnic history of the area during breaks between performers. Most entertainment acts are scheduled to perform for 30 minutes.
Festival goers will also be able to visit the an interactive tent where they can get human rights literature, talk with Kathryn Halvorson (the Human Rights Commission's Ruth Aulick Award winner for her civic efforts), and have their face painted courtesy of members of the Consortium of the Creative Arts.
The Paynesville Area Museum, with its wealth of information about the ethnic history of the area, will be open at a discounted rate. Instead of the normal $2, festival goers will be able to tour the museum for just $1 on Saturday.
"That's why we're doing it there," said Voss. "Because of the ethnic history, the museum is a natural spot."
Tents, tables, and chairs will be available on the front lawn of the museum, between the museum, the school house, and Highway 23. In case of really inclement weather, the event will be moved indoors at the Koronis Civic Arena.
Food vendors - girl scout troops, church groups, and other civic organizations - will have samples for people to try. The free samples are courtesy of the Chamber, which is donating money to cover the cost of samples in lieu of its Customer Appreciation Day.
Food vendors will have larger portions of their ethnic food for sale. (See the box for a list of ethnic food scheduled to be available.)
Festival goers can either take the Paynesville Area Transit bus or park at the Cenex station along Highway 23 when they come to the event. The transit bus will provide free transportation between downtown Paynesville to the festival. Or, people should park in the lot east of Cenex and walk.
The eastern portion of Ampe Drive - between Koronis Tire and the museum - will be blocked off past Koronis Tire to keep unnecessary car traffic out of the site.
Voss hopes the festival will become an annual event, even if it needs some significant tweaks after its inaugural session. The point is to remind the community aware of its cultural background, which should help the community prepare for the next wave of immigration.
"Bring (people) for free food," said Voss. "Bring them for tree entertainment. And then maybe we'll get our message across."
"We don't have near as much ethnicity as other communities," added Voss, "but more is going to come."
Members of the planning committee that organized the festival are: Jeff Bertram, Bert Stanley, Ann Johnson, Jean Soine, Sheri Liebl, Bertha Zniewski, Janelle Hoffman, Karlene Gray, Mary Schultz, Lindeman, Jacobson, Tom Koshiol, Howard Caldwell, and Pastor Ric Koehn.
Festival of Ethnic Traditions
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