Festival of Nations brings cultures together

ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) – Last year, the St. Peter Good Neighbor Diversity Council started the Festival of Nations. It was an opportunity for people to come together at the start of summer and celebrate cuisine and culture they might not know much about.

The festival was an unexpected success.

“Folks are longing for meaningful ways to celebrate each other and we don’t feel like we have enough chances to do that,” said Trish Hiscock-Austin.

The festival returned this year, bringing in similar crowds but even more vendors.

“I recommend if you’ve never tried something, explore, enjoy it, because Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s a big kitchen and has a lot more to offer,” said Ahmad Kiblawi, owner of Shawarmania.

“It gives us an opportunity to connect with everyone, in this community and the surrounding communities, connect with the kids and adults about being safe,” said Matthew Grochow, chief of St. Peter’s police department.

The festival is particularly important to St. Peter’s police department, which is focused on fostering trust at a time when people are losing that trust in law enforcement.

“We have work to do every day to work on that trust issue, and the only way I feel that can work is to be involved with the community,” said Grochow. “To show them that if there is fear they experience around law enforcement, that they won’t have fear with us.”

Ultimately, the Festival of Nations is proof that, in an era where Americans seem more divided than ever, there are people searching for connection in our differences.

“It’s been a really wonderful way for people to learn about each other, and be together,” said Hiscock-Austin. “People want to be together.”

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