The 2019 Festival of Nations was a tale of two festivals, really. Saturday had gorgeous weather and, as a result, teeming crowds. Vendors were running out of food and we were selling out of drinks. It was very difficult to keep up with the demand created by having as many festival goers on site in one day as we had had over entire weekends in years past.
Then Sunday came and with it a stormfront that brought rain and markedly cooler temperatures. As those on the festival grounds sought shelter from the torrential rain, I found myself waiting with some others under a tree near the east end of the festival. Those who shared the space with me were planning their next move as the rain poured down. I overheard one lady say to her friend, “After this rain stops, we’ll go by the Congolese craft booth, and then see the performance at the main stage.” These folks weren’t willing to let a downpour spoil their festival experience. As we continued to wait for the rain to let up, we saw the shuttle bus arrive at the stop. Several folks who had enough of the wet and cold hopped aboard the shuttle. At the same time more than a dozen folks jumped off the bus, extended their umbrellas, and began to seek out their favorite food and craft experiences despite the weather.
The fact that festival goers are willing to brave such bad weather to experience the sounds, smells, and vitality that the festival puts on display every year truly speaks to the value they place on the experience. I am so thrilled to be a small part of such a valued cultural institution.