Rhythm @the River was attneded by people of Winona and the surrounding area on Sunday, Sept. 15, at Levee park.
The event included dance lessons, live music, craft beer, and food trucks.
Organizers spent between $12,000 and $15,000 to organize the event.
Lee Gundersheimer, arts and culture coordinator at WINONArts said many sponsors believe in WINONArts and helped pay for the event, in addition to fundraising.
Rhythm @ the River is an expanded 2018 version of “Swinging in the Streets.”
Organizers said the event was moved to Levee Park and made it bigger because last year 400 people participated on Third Street.
Rhythm @ the River was created as a part of a series of events that WINONArts puts on according to Gunersheimer.
“The event is part of the Dance Plein Air events in WINONArts, the City’s initiative to bring as many folks together with the arts and through as many different art forms as possible, dance being one of them,” Gunersheimer said.
Winona State Students Emma and Scout were on their way to study at Blue Heron and decided to see what was going on.
The two got snow cones at one of the food trucks and sat down in the grassy area of the park to enjoy the music.
“I really like the Spanish music,” Emma said. “I think we definitely would come to this again.”
Rhythm @ the River was also the kick-off to Project FINE’s Welcome Week.
Welcome Week helps create a more welcoming community for immigrants and people who have relocated to Winona, according to Gunersheimer.
The Winona State University African Students Association will be hosting the first ever Ebony Night on April 21st at 7 p.m. in Kryzsko Commons on the WSU campus.
ASA members Beke Eromosele and Nyalen Pidor are organizing the event and described it as a celebration of African and African American culture.
The night is going to be hosted by African comedian Chief Obi and
will include dance performances, a fashion show, various student performances, a red carpet photo shoot, east and west African food and more.
Eromosele and Pidor said they are excited not only about how much fun they are going to have, but for how important an event like this is for a university without much diversity.
“It’s really important to have,” Pidor said. “It celebrates a culture that is ignored at our school because we have a very small demographic of black students.”
Pidor said an event like this will make that demographic feel special and appreciated.
Both Eromosele and Pidor said it will be cool to showcase their culture to anyone who would like to come.
“It will be cool to show people our customs and our traditions,” Pidor said. “It’s a fun way of educating people who don’t know much about our culture.”
Eromosele said most people don’t know a lot but would like to know more and this is a great chance for them to do so.
Pidor and Eromosele said they urge anyone to come to the event especially if they are not African or African American.
ASA is an inclusive club, according to Pidor and Eromosele.
The event is meant for all groups of people.
“When we were planning it, we had some worries about white people feeling like, ‘I don’t know if I should come or not,’” Eromosele said. “We made it known that white people and other cultures and other races can come.”
WSU’s Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Dr. Johnathan Locust, said he’s thrilled about the event and thinks it can do a lot of good things for the university.
“It promotes Winona to different segments of people who may not have been looking at Winona State University in the first place,” Locust said. “We want everybody to talk to everybody.”
Locust said he believes the power in conversation between different groups of people is what can bring those groups closer and Ebony night is going to contribute to that kind of unity.
Winona State student Eric Mullen is not a member of ASA but plans on going to Ebony night.
“I have a decent understanding of European cultures but zero knowledge of African cultures,” Mullen said. “This would be a good introductory point for me to learn more about that.”
Mullen described this event as a ‘stay-cation’ – instead of traveling to these countries to experience the culture, an event like this allows students like him to experience it first-hand at home.
The budget for the event is around $13,000 the club received from Student Senate, UPAC and other private organizations according to Eromosele.
Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for the general admission.
“Have fun and enjoy cultures that you wouldn’t normally experience,” Pidor said. “It’s gonna be a great night.”