The Global Friends Coalition will host its 13th Annual Community Picnic from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19 at University Park.
The free event is an opportunity to celebrate community, inclusivity and a welcoming environment, according to Cynthia Shabb, executive director of the Global Friends Coalition.
Honorary co-hosts for the event are members of the Southeast Europeans Community, which includes people from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, Shabb said.
The event is open to all. In case of rain, it will be moved to Wesley United Methodist Church, 1600 Fourth Ave. N.
The goal of the picnic is to bolster relations between refugees and the broader community, and is part of Welcoming Week, an initiative by the national organization, Welcoming America.
The food will be prepared by local restaurants and stores, including Steers, Safari Market, Hamro Bazar, Asian Grocery, Al Amin, House of Punjab and others. Menu items are rice, chicken kabobs or vegetable curry and vegetable or meat samosa -- also called sambusa, depending on the country of origin -- a meat pie to be served by West African Cuisine, Shabb said. The Southeast Europeans will be offering samples of a cheese roll, called kefala. All-beef hot dogs, served by The Salvation Army, will also be served.
The event will also feature music and games.
“The Community Picnic is a perfect opportunity to come out and show that Grand Forks is welcoming,” Shabb said. “We are excited to be back in-person at this outdoor picnic.”
A group of Red River High School student “ambassadors,” New Americans who speak Nepali and Somali, will be on hand to help support conversation, she said.
About 500 people are expected to attend the event, she said, and extra precautions are being taken to prevent long lines for food service, she said.
Grand Forks Public Health employees will be onsite to offer the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
Event sponsors are Retrax Retractable Bed Covers, Hugo’s Family Marketplace, Grand Forks Park District, Grand Forks Public Health, The Salvation Army, The Grand Forks Herald, Forks Finest Auto Body and Car Wash, the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region, and JLG Architects, as well as individual supporters who are helping to cover costs, Shabb said.
The Global Friends Coalition fosters the integration of refugees into the Grand Forks community which, most recently, has become home to refugees from Bhutan and Somalia, Shabb said.
Resettlement has nearly come to a standstill the last few years, with only one refugee being resettled in Grand Forks in both 2020 and 2021, she said.