Experience the diversity

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

A celebration of diversity: tables full of crafts and trinkets, hours of entertainment and booth after booth of food, all in the name of cultural diversity.

If you were disappointed with the last Festival of Cultures, which was in Oct. of 2000, that’s no reason to skip this year’s. In fact, it’s an excellent reason why this year’s festival will appeal to you.

Sandy Newman, secretary for Diversity Enhancement and the festival coordinator for the past two fests, is relatively new to the game.

“[The Oct. 2000] festival was really small, due to inexperience. This is only our office’s second year of doing the festival,” she said.

She’s encouraging everyone to check out this year’s version. “This year we have pretty much doubled the size?we have twice as many food booths, twice as many bazaar booths, twice as many display booths.”

Newman’s standards for this year’s event are high: “Our goal is pretty much to return it to the glory days,” she said.

With a glance at the itinerary for the festival, which runs Friday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it’s not hard to imagine the work that has gone into preparing this event.

One of the biggest parts of the festival are the tables showcasing various cultures. Jeanne Wipf, a junior and co-president of the German Club, is partially responsible for the German booth that will be on display.

She’s already begun planning for the booth. “We have a couple things there showing German culture, things you’d see in Germany. We put a few things up?some sweatshirts, we asked people to bring in some stuff they got from Germany,” she said.

In addition to cultural items for display, the German Club booth will also be selling a popular item: European chocolate.

“The chocolates are pretty popular,” Wipf said. “People love them. They come and buy a lot.”

Beside the many booths and tables that will represent 33 different countries and cultures, there is highly varied entertainment that runs nearly all day.

On the agenda are a bag piper, an international fashion show, international songs and dances, Native American interpretive dancing, African-American poetry and songs, and Norwegian folk songs.

Also prepared to entertain is Jackie Bird, a hoop dancer who performed for the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City, and Michael Fitzsimmons, who will play percussion instruments from around the world.

High school students preferring to participate rather than sit on the sidelines may enjoy the foreign language competitions. Students may demonstrate their mastery over either Spanish or German.

There will also be a Global Perspectives workshop, presented by Anisah David at two different times during the day, and the international students will be doing a demonstration of cricket, a popular worldwide sport, in the intramural field at 2 p.m.

Another exciting aspect of the multicultural day will be door prizes.

“A lot of businesses in Brookings and also in Sioux Falls, as well as the bookstore and intercollegiate athletics, have been very generous in providing door prizes,” Newman said.

There will be drawings for these prizes throughout the day, along with a separate drawing for a sculpture by Bushnell artist Aric Wenger.

Attending the Festival of Cultures is recommended for many reasons.

Wipf, who attended the last fest, said, “The food’s good, but I like the stands better?go and look, observation learning. The people you can talk to [are the best]. They usually have a perspective from that culture.”

She also feels the festival is important because “you get a feel for different cultures .. just learn a little bit about their culture. It helps you to be a little more open.”

For these reasons, Wipf is looking forward to festival day. “I’m excited about it. I want to spend all day there; I don’t want to go to class,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t really get to watch [the entertainment] much last year, and that’s why I want to spend more time there this year.”

Admission to the festival is one dollar, but SDSU students get in free with their ID. Newman said she is hoping for a strong turn out.

“We’d like to encourage many SDSU students, faculty and staff to attend,” she said.