)-The International Institute of St. Louis, the St. Louis region's Welcoming Center for New Americans, once again presented its signature cultural event, the International Institute's Festival of Nations, this past Saturday and Sunday in Tower Grove Park.
The Festival is the St. Louis region's largest multicultural celebration, having grown steadily each year since it was first presented by the International Institute back in 2000.
International Institute President & CEO Anna E. Crosslin
, said, "While we are awaiting final attendance estimates from Tower Grove Park officials and security personnel, it is very likely that we matched or even exceeded the 150,000 visitors who attended the Festival last year.
This unprecedented success could only happen as a result of our wonderful sponsors and the incredibly hard work of our staff and volunteers. I thank them so very much, including our visitors for coming, enjoying and rubbing shoulders with the world."
Festival of Nations is our gift to St. Louis. It's our opportunity for many St. Louisans to meet and greet people who are from many other cultures around the world and to share their traditions. It's remarkable that we even had Festival visitors from
Belize, Estonia, Morocco, Nepal, South Africa, Liberia, Ghana, the Republic of Singapore, and Madagascar
," Crosslin added.
"Annually, we have at least 125,000 people who attend the Festival of Nations over the weekend. It's amazing how many different cultures we have in St. Louis. Our guests come from all over the bi-state St. Louis region, Missouri and Illinois overall and even surrounding states. When you visit the Festival, you have a chance to explore the culture, the customs and the people from throughout the world who are now your neighbors. I hope visitors will take their stories back into their communities so they can share with everyone not just the different cultures, the clothing, the music and the arts of our new St. Louisans, but in fact their similarities, as well," she noted.
Festival of Nations Chair Arvan Chan, Centene Corp. Regional Vice President of Corporate Operations, said, "The Festival celebrates the cultural diversity of St. Louis, the economic strengths, and also supports the efforts to make St. Louis a welcoming place and an even better place for people to live, work and invest."
The Festival featured three stages with non-stop entertainment from cultures around the world. Dozens of vendor booths with arts, crafts, gifts, clothes and more were showcased. And then, there was the food.
"It's kind of nice to have all of this variety of ethnic foods, all these food booths in one central location and this year we had some new food booths as well, from the countries of Georgia, Lebanon and Syria, as well as the State of Hawaii," Chan noted.
"We thank our Presenting Sponsor, Wells Fargo Advisors, for their wonderful support, as well as our Arts & Music Sponsors, the Centene Charitable Foundation, Enterprise Holdings and Monsanto. We also thank our Area Sponsors, U.S. Bank, Webster University, the Missouri Arts Council and the Regional Arts Commission," Crosslin concluded.