The Free Press
Gladys Olson, the founder of the Mankato Area International Festival, will be a highlight of the 37th event to be held April 14.
Described as a world traveler, Olson is a professor emeritus of Minnesota State University and was instrumental in establishing the festival and a scholarship for international students at MSU.
Olson will be honored as this year's Kuhn Lee festival grand marshal and will be present during opening ceremonies.
The festival, themed "Passport to Discovery," will be held in MSU's Centennial Student Union. A flag parade, led for the first time by a Scottish bagpiper, will culminate in the CSU Hearth Lounge, where a traditional American Indian smudging ceremony will open the celebration at 11 a.m.
Highlights will include more international food and cultural vendors than ever before, a new global film compendium, and a new cafe and dessert bar featuring drinks and desserts from around the world.
The family-friendly event also offers Children's and Teen's World, a silent auction, and three professional cultural performance groups in addition to continuous entertainment from international student groups.
As in previous years, admission and entertainment are free.
A grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund is allowing the festival to offer more professional performers than previously. Ethnic Dance Theatre, Mu Daiko Japanese Drumming Group, and Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre are scheduled to appear at various times throughout the day on one of two entertainment stages.
The Mankato Area International Festival is one of Minnesota's largest annual inter-cultural events, drawing about 4,000 people to MSU.