This year, after the August event had to be canceled due to the Cascade Fire, the Red Lodge Festival of Nations Board of Directors decided to take a bold new direction: expanding the Festival! The organization's charter is to entertain and educate people about the ethnic cultures that created Red Lodge, and the Board has decided that doing it right requires more than just a single summer party.
Each month from January through July, the Festival of Nations will sponsor a smaller event focused on one ethnic group, and culminating with the big Festival in August as usual. In some cases, they will be working with an existing group, providing sponsorship and promotion for an existing event. In others, brand-new events are being set up.
Things will kick off in January with an event that the Festival has provided sponsorship for in the past: the Robert Burns supper. This is a huge annual celebration held around the world in honor of the poet laureate of Scotland. We'll be discussing plans for expanding the Robert Burns supper: more dancing, more singing, more bagpipes, and yes, more haggis.
February will bring Fasching. This is the annual "Karneval" celebration in Germany that usually features costume balls and beer. It's the German equivalent of our Mardi Gras.
This is not an entirely new concept for the Festival. Already, the Festival has provided funding for ethnic dance classes and put on a variety of concerts and other events in Red Lodge. There is an Outreach and Education committee focused on sponsorships like this.
The Festival is also working with the Carbon County Historical Society on ethnic exhibits. Gerald Davidson, a former director of the Festival, has donated a collection of historic Festival photos with captions to the Historical Society, which will form a part of the first joint exhibit.
The Festival of Nations Board has directors representing all of the main ethnicities that contributed to the building of Red Lodge, plus a Montana director and several "at large" directors. With the new distributed schedule, committees will be set up for each month, and the Festival is looking for volunteers to help.
The Red Lodge Festival of Nations annual meeting will be held Sunday, October 12 in the back room at the Red Lodge Pizza Company. Be there at 1:00 for the public part of the meeting, and join in the discussion and planning.
The Festival will have several spots on the Board of Directors opening up this year, and they will be taking nominations at the meeting.
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