August 24, 2023 — The International Institute of Minnesota and the Festival of Nations, the Midwest’s oldest and longest running multicultural festival, announce with sadness the conclusion of this beloved event.
The decision to discontinue the Festival was not taken lightly. The Institute recognizes the disappointment this announcement brings to the dedicated staff, volunteers, families and community organizations who contributed their time and effort to making the Festival a cherished event since 1932.
While the Institute remains steadfast in its commitment to celebrating Minnesota’s diverse cultures, it must prioritize its urgent day-to-day work of serving New Americans with their successful transition to a new community. Refugee services, immigration and citizenship support, education and workforce development are essential not only for newcomers, but they also benefit the wider community by building a stronger Minnesota.
The Process of Reimagining and the Decision to Discontinue
The Festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to public health restrictions and concerns for the well-being of attendees and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the global refugee crisis persisted at unprecedented levels, requiring the Institute’s undivided attention on delivering its primary services for refugees and immigrants.
The Institute spent the last two years carefully considering how we could proceed with the Festival. Options to reimagine the Festival included potential community partners, a new venue and other changes. As a strong partner did not emerge, it became evident that it would be impossible to sustain the event.
The Institute’s Gratitude to the Festival Community
Since its inception, the Festival of Nations has aimed to unite people from diverse cultures through celebration and education. The Institute commends and expresses gratitude to the countless individuals and ethnic organizations that have tirelessly contributed to promoting cultural awareness and fostering a sense of togetherness in a multitude of ways.
We encourage the community to continue embracing and celebrating Minnesota’s rich tapestry of cultures, communities and connections. We remain optimistic that these passionate ethnic organizations will adapt and create new traditions of celebration and education in the future.
Since 1919, the International Institute of Minnesota has delivered critical services and resources to help New Americans transition to their new lives in Minnesota. From language learning and job training to immigration and refugee services, the Institute offers New Americans a pathway for a strong start to a new life. Once stability is achieved, we’re there for next steps, too: from college preparation and career advancement to citizenship support and financial coaching toward home ownership.