Sunday, May 5, 2013

Festival of Nations

In 1922 a Festival of Nations celebration began in Saint Paul. It continues to this day. Yesterday I walked up to the Xcel Center where it is held. It has been several years since I've attended the Festival and everything was in a new place.

After getting a ticket I took an escalator down one level and was immediately in the Cafe. Many groups representing countries or culture have booths selling food. It was 12:30 pm so I was interested.

Here is the Hungarian booth and not to any surprise, one dish was gulyas.
But it looked like "American gulyas" not Hungarian gulyas, so I walked on.

I enjoyed seeing the hats that are prominent in many cultures.

Above is the Colombian booth.

I wandered about until I got to Norway and got a rice pudding with lingonberries. This is one of my favorite ethnic foods, even though I'm not a bit Norwegian. Actually began eating this at the Norway Pavilion at Disney World!

Then another turn around the cafe and I stopped at the Polish booth.

I got a serving of sernik with cherries. I took this over to the Cafe Stage and sat and enjoyed musical performances while I ate the sernik.

My next stop was the bazaar. Below is a photo of the Ghana booth, largely clothing.

 This area also had some demonstrations of cultural arts. Below is a woman showing Slovak straw weaving.

My next stop was the World Stage. Here were dance performances. Below is a German group with a bit of May Pole dance. According to the narration, the idea of dancing around a May Pole began in ancient German culture.

And here is a long video of a group of Polish dancers from the Kashubian area. The narration for this dance explained it represents the sea; the Kashubians live close to or on the Baltic.
After watching dancing for more than an hour, I went to the booths showing simply culture -- nothing to sell.

 Here are a group playing a Yemeni game.

The Hungarian culture booth had an exhibit about the Children's Railroad in Budapest. I had a lovely visit with the woman at this booth as we discussed Budapest, Pecs, and Targu Mures, her home town.

I kept looking and looking for the Romanian booth.

Finally read the fine print on this sign and discovered these countries were not participating in Festival of Nations this year because the dates coincided with Orthodox Easter. They will be back next year when the calendar puts Easter on a different date.

It was now about 4:00 and I was a bit hungry so I went back to the food booth area and got a kielbasa. Oh, it was good!

I had good intentions of watching more musicians and dancers but I was really on stimulus overload and decided after 6 hours to walk back home.

Outdoors it seemed like the world had changed. The sun was out and the breeze was warm.

My path towards home takes me to the Science Museum Plaza. Here I found a wedding party gathering for a photo.

 This shows that the Festival of Nations exists in the real world, too, in Saint Paul.

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