Festival celebrating diversity to be held at Minnesota Capitol Saturday

Merge Twin Cities: Celebrating the Nations Festival will be held at the Minnesota State Capitol on Saturday.

On the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol, crews are hard at work setting the stage for what is expected to be a weekend of hope and healing.

Sammy Wanyonyi says more than 100 different countries are represented in the Twin Cities, each with an identity of their own. He organized the Merge Twin Cities: Celebrating the Nations Festival. The event will have tents showcasing different cultures, ethnic food trucks, and musical performances by Christian artists like Chandler Moore, Tasha Cobbs Leonard and KB.

"This is to acknowledge we are a diverse city," said Wanyonyi. "We are a community that is representing basically the world and that there is a strength in our unity together."

Wanyonyi grew up in rural Africa and left Kenya to come to Minnesota to go to college more than 20 years ago. He says especially after the last year and half with the pandemic and racial unrest following the murder of George Floyd, he wants different communities to celebrate what makes them unique while finding common ground.

"I've grown here my connections and relationships with friends from different cultures from white and Black, Latino and Asian and enjoying that aspect, so I'm passionate about us all being able to be together," he said.

Wanyonyi expects anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 people to descend on the Capitol for the free event on Saturday. He believes honoring our shared humanity will set the Twin Cities apart.

"That there can be healing. There can be hope. There can be encouragement. We don't have to fight each other. We can find a place of hope together as the Twin Cities," he said.