Sioux Falls Festival of Cultures at Falls Park

Cagey, the Sioux Falls Canaries' Mascot, enjoying the Festival of Cultures!A friend and I checked out the Sioux Falls Festival of Cultures this weekend, and it was a great event!  When I was growing up here as a kid, different cultures seemed rare, and I don’t remember seeing many celebrations like this.  This celebration though was a real community event, filling up Falls Park with the sights and sounds of Sioux Falls’ ethnic communities.

Driving into the park from downtown Sioux Falls and Philips Avenue, the streets were lined with flags of nearly 200 countries and Native American nations.

Walking up the hill from the parking area, I ran into Cagey, the Canary’s mascot, who was also soaking up the fun at the Festival of Cultures.

The festival area included a mainstage, a Teepee, an immigrant art exhibit, various community organization booths, mouth-watering eats, and a crowd of excited attendees, including many people dressed in traditional clothing. 

Many people were in traditional dress at the Festival of Cultures.Booths and tables represented some of the local community organizations which serve Sioux Falls’ immigrant and ethnic communities,like the La Voz Hispana, the local Spanish language magazine.

Food choices were also abundant at the Festival of Cultures, with everything from Wisconsin cheese curds to Greek gyros to Ethiopian tibs.

My friend and I chose gyros for a late lunch, which turned out to be a delicious choice. The spiced beef, lettuce, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce combined to make a tasty lunch.  As we ate we were entertained with Finnish music and dancing, an enthusiastic performance that included audience participation.

As we left we passed a tent with Native American drumming and dancing, and later in the night, Brasamba, a Brazilian Samba group, took the stage.

As an event, the Festival of Cultures was great fun.  As a representation of the community of Sioux Falls and its growing diversity, it was amazing.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s 14th Annual Festival of Cultures!

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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