TWIRL: A dancer performs at last years International Friendship Festival, in Pelican Rapids.

The Pelican Rapids Multicultural Committee (PRMC) will host its 17th International Friendship Festival (IFF) this Saturday, June 18, at Sherin Park in Pelican Rapids.

The IFF offers families in the region a food and entertainment experience featuring performers from six different cultures and ethnic food samples from the native countries of Pelican Rapids residents.

New this year is a project called “Voices and Visions of Resilience.” Organizers plan to have an audio booth at the event to record videos of local people interviewing their friends and loved ones about their lives. Each person will leave with a virtual link to watch and share their interview online.

At the same time, a long muslin banner will be used for community engagement by artist Nancy Valentine to help people paint, draw or write their stories of resilience. In addition, filmmaker Deb Wallwork will produce and edit a documentary video combining the words and the art. Plans are to exhibit the video and the banner at the Pelican Rapids Public Library and the Otter Tail County Historical Society later in the summer.

Food options include local Mexican food, American BBQ, Vietnamese egg rolls, sambusa (meat pies), gyros, Italian ices, Somali tea and ethnic desserts. Craft demonstrations will feature arts from around the world and kids activities include a piñata, a bouncy house and kid-friendly crafts. Entertainment and performances get underway around 10:45 a.m. and run until just after 5 p.m.

The goal of the festival is to bring people from diverse backgrounds together through music and food. For new immigrants to the United States, it will be a celebration of things that they may have lost in coming to a new country. For long-time locals, it will be an introduction to sounds and flavors with which they might not be familiar but which are becoming a part of the history and culture of Otter Tail County. But for everyone attending, it will be a celebration of incredible music, bright flavors and new friends.

The PRMC was formed in 1992 with a mission “to promote cultural awareness and foster respect, appreciation, and understanding that crosses cultural barriers by providing opportunities for dialogue, learning, sharing and socializing through art, music and food.”

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Lake Region Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

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