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May 11, 2009

Festival of Nations River Centre St. Paul MN

NORM & MARY ANN SETNICKER
normas188@msn.com

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Festival of Nations River Centre St. Paul MNThe Twin Cities Slovenians (SWUA 109) won the “Award of Excellence” at the Festival of Nations held at the River Centre in St. Paul (April 30-May3). This is the largest ethnic Festival held in the United States and historically the longest running. It traditionally draws crowds in excess of 80,000 for the four day event. This award of excellence is given to the top 5 exhibits and is based on the following criteria: theme related, use of technology, interactive activities, exhibit personnel (costumes, demeanor, knowledge) and artistic quality.

This year’s theme was entitled “Invention and Transportation” with the idea to draw out how people get around and/or how things work from the cultures One of the centerpoints of the exhibit was Frank Medved’s six-foot plywood replica of “Urban” the Ribnican who peddled his wooden goods throughout central Europe. What made our “Ribnican special was that the face was hinged so that the school children could pose with their face and the body of the Ribnican. This made the display more interactive for students. 

Our last minute insert for the exhibit proved to be very popular for the adults- a detailed picture and replica of the oldest wooden wheel ever found in the world (between 5100-5350 years old).It was discovered in the Ljubljana marshes of Slovenia. Yul Yost, our “ Slovenian Renaissance man”, made contact with Dr. Anton Veluscek of the Archeology Institute of Slovenia and produced a wooden replica of this amazing discovery. This was probably the first time that this picture and replica were displayed together in such a public setting. 

The third piece of our exhibit used our traditional background panels of the Slovenian landscape with pictures of prominent Slovenian inventors, scholars and scientists in the foreground noting their primary accomplishments. Also in the foreground was a 32 inch TV monitor with a continuous playing DVD illustrating innovative Slovenians along with prominent Slovenian Americans who had made significant contributions to Invention and Transportation. 

Another unique feature of our exhibit was an attempt to have students become more interactive with the theme of the Festival. Two thousand “baseball size” cards picturing Slovenian scientists, scholars and inventors were handed out to students. Enscribed on the cards was our website: www.twincitiesslovenians.org with the idea that students could visit the website and learn more about these prominent Slovenians and their contributions to the world. 

As with last year’s Festival theme of “Art and Architecture”, this year’s theme created more involvement for our “young” Branch 109 and the “Award of Excellence is a credit to the many people who worked in the exhibit stamping “passports”, greeting people in Slovenian, writing first names in Slovenian, passing out literature and responding to the many questions from students and adults. Special thanks to the following : Mary Medved, chairperson, Frank Medved( DVD and Ribnican replica), Jeff Martinka ( research), Ann Slavec (prominent Slovenians “baseball” cards; Sue Rademacher and Tom Moren( artists/setup), Yul Yost (oldest wooden wheel replica/ research); Andy Percic(transportation/ storage) Yvonne and Al McComber ( TV monitor), and Mary Schwanke (website design). 

For more details on our Festival of Nations exhibit please check our website: www.twincitiesslovenians.org.