Festival of Nations River Centre St. Paul MN
NORM & MARY ANN SETNICKER
The 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
For more details on our Festival of Nations exhibit please check our website: