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First-ever Diversity Festival full of flare, food and cultural fun W/VIDEOS

Organizers were pleased with the turnout.

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Performing Native American dances at the first-ever Diversity Festival in Alexandria were, from left, Cassidy Wolff, Abella Erler and Adonis Erler, who are all from the Lower Sioux Indian Community near Morton. The festival took place on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — The turnout was great for the first-ever Diversity Festival in Alexandria , according to organizers.

The event, which took place Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Alexandria Technical and Community College, featured cultural food made with authentic ingredients, Native American drumming, dancing and more.

"The event was a tremendous success," said Jeremy Vinar, community member who was on the planning committee for the event. "We weren't sure what to expect for a first-time event, but had made conservative guesses of about 200 to 300 people."

Vinar said rough estimates after the event had the actual attendance at about double what was expected. He added that a number of the restaurants that had provided food samples graciously ended up making even more samples than what they had first brought over.

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Attendees of the first-ever Diversity Festival sample food from Casa Jalisco, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Alexandria.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

"Many of our vendors made comments that if we continue next year, they want to participate again," said Vinar.

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Deb LeDoux from the Literacy Project and the Inclusion Network, who was also on the planning committee, said the event went fantastic for a first-time effort.

"I only heard positive comments about the food, entertainment and opportunity it gave people to meet and learn about other cultures in our community," said LeDoux.

She said because so many want to make this a yearly event, the small planning committee is meeting this week to brainstorm how to keep it going but with even more community members participating.

Besides Vinar and LeDoux, the other members of the planning committee are Cindy Haarstad and Eli Dotts from the Alexandria Technical and Community College, Bea Hadler from the Literacy Project and Tom E Lee, program director morning show host at Z99 radio in Alexandria.

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Nelly DeLaRosby performed a Mexican folk dance at this year's Diversity Festival, which took place Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Attendees of the first-ever Diversity Festival sample food from El Loro, a Mexican restaurant in Alexandria.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Adonis Erler from the Lower Sioux Indian Community near Morton performed at the first-ever Diversity Festival that took place Thursday, Sept. 15, in Alexandria.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Cassidy Wolff from the Lower Sioux Indian Community performed a healing dance during the Diversity Festival in Alexandria on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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While wearing their jingle dresses, sisters Abella, right, and Adelyn Erler from the Lower Sioux Indian Community near Morton performed at this year's Diversity Festival at the Alexandria Technical and Community College. The event took place on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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The Taste of Columbia dancers performed a salsa dance during the Diversity Festival at the Alexandria Technical and Community College on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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The attendance at the first-ever Diversity Festival was more than double what was expected, according to organizers. The event took place Thursday, Sept, 15, 2022, at the Alexandria Technical and Community College.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Performing Native American drumming and singing at the first-ever Diversity Festival were members of the Ojibwe and Dakota tribes from the Lower Sioux Indian Community, from left, Adrian Erler, Joe Columbus, Joe Erler, Terry Goodsky and Dane Nelson. The festival took place on Sept. 15, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Master Marty from Dragon Martial Arts Academy in Alexandria performed at the Diversity Festival, which was held on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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