Saturday’s Multicultural Fiesta brought a little bit of German, Swedish, Mexican, Scottish, Central and Native American culture and more to downtown St. James.
More than 15 information booths and over 10 food vendors were present to manifest the town's diversity all in one spot. As flags from all over the world swayed over the event grounds all evening long, fiesta goers could watch pupusas of El Salvador hand pressed as they stood in line or garnachas of Belize fried just a few vendors down.
While residents and visitors enjoyed their meals, the entertainment portion of the fiesta kept the celebration active with performances by Narren of New Ulm, Swedish Fiddlers, Mexico Lindo, Native Pride Dancer Sean 'Stands Good' Soukkala, Scottish Bagpippers, and an Aztec dance group from Copal organization. Dozens of families and friends huddled around the entertainment space with a few even choosing to sit on the ground.
Ever Vargas, member of Convivencia Hispana, stated the first year attracted 400 people and 700 people the following year. This year over 1,000 people were in attendance, according to United Cultured/Uniendo Culturas.
“One of the beautiful things for people is to show their kids, grandkids, where they come from,” Vargas has said in regards to sharing cultures and educating the community. “We don’t want our ancestors to die.”
Plenty of little moments lingered with the crowd. Performers of Mexico Lindo imitated elderly people dancing with the help of their canes during Danza de los Viejitos. At the end, a performer emphasized the elderly characteristic by taking a fall, as if too weak and losing grip of their cane. They trembled as they came back up with help from another performer. Another moment included Sean "Stand Good" Soukkala's two little sons, Jason and Christopher, dancing from the sidelines as he performed. They eventually stepped into the performance space to join Soukkala, unable to keep from mirroring his energy.
Brentano Band guided the fiesta into the night with an intermission performance by St. James residents Matt Seegert and Sofia Solorzano.
This year's Multicultural Fiesta was sponsored by the United Cultures/Uniendo Culturas, Convivencia Hispana, local and regional individuals and businesses. Grants making the event possible came from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) and Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council from funds appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature.