Welcoming the audience to the International Friendship Festival June 18 in four languages, from left, Izo Becic, Bosnian; Cynthia Zavala, Spanish; Lema Chubylka, Ukrainian; and Mayor Brent Frazier, English.

Unfriendly was the wind June 18 in Pelican Rapids, for the multi-cultural gathering in the park. 

Gusts tipped over the lightweight Vietnamese xylophone; blew away some Beethovian sheet music; and food vendors buttoned down booths. 

But other than a few mishaps, it was a hospitable day for celebrating ethnic diversity at the famous “International Friendship Festival.” 

Seven music and dance programs were featured over the course of the day, from Scandinavian to Mexican to Native American themes. 

While gusts of wind caused minor disruptions during Friendship Fest, the hot temperatures were tempered by the shade of Sherin Park and the cool waters of the nearby Pelican River. 

New to the festival was Thi Vu, a Vietnamese-American who performs on the distinctive Southeast Asian Zither and bamboo xylophone. 

A warm welcome was delivered, in four languages. Mayor Brent Frazier greeted in English; Izo Becic in Bosnian; Cynthia Zavala in Spanish; and Lema Chubylka, in Ukrainian. 

It was a special day for Chubylka, who immigrated from war-torn Ukraine in April. The Band of Faith, under director Mike Nettestad, played the Ukrainian National Anthem—which drew a round of applause from the audience. 

Music, arts, and crafts continued through the day—with informal dancing by members of the local Somali community, and visiting family and friends. 

A member of the Buffalo River Drum and Dance Group.
A close-up of a member of the Folklorico Mexico troupe.

Photos courtesy of Chuck Krekelberg.

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