Best Bets: Austin to kick off Welcoming Week

Published 7:43 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

Austin will celebrate its fourth annual Welcoming Week from Sept. 13-22, 2019.

Welcoming Week is an annual celebration bringing together thousands of people and hundreds of local events that builds unity and recognizes the contributions of immigrants and refugees and the role long-term residents play to foster greater welcome. Welcoming Week is celebrated across the country and is expanding to other parts of the world.

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“Welcoming Week is a reminder of the resilient and inclusive spirit of American communities,”  said Rachel Peric, executive director of Welcoming America. “Instead of casting blame, thousands of local leaders in communities large and small, rural and urban, are bringing their communities together to bridge divides and build stronger local economies where everyone belongs.”

The goal of the celebration is to bring together residents in a spirit of unity to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone and acknowledge the important contributions immigrants make to our community. Austin was one of the first cities in Minnesota to join the Welcoming America coalition of cities and is nationally recognized as a leader in building an inclusive community where all residents can thrive.

“We are a stronger and better community when all residents feel welcome here,” said Mayor Tom Stiehm. “Newcomers add value by contributing their time, talents, and culture to our city.”

“This is a great chance to connect with neighbors and learn more about the past, present, and future of Austin,” said Sara Karki, chair of Austin Human Rights Commission.

Welcoming Week celebrations will include:

Friday, Sept. 13

  • YMCA Family Fun Night, 6-8 p.m. at the Austin YMCA.

Saturday, Sept. 14

  • Park Clean Up Service Project, 9 a.m. at the Todd Park Soccer Fields

Monday, Sept. 16

  • Ignite Civic Engagement Workshop, 6 p.m. at the Town Center Conference Room
  • Austin Through the Lens of the Green Book (part of One Austin, Many Stories), 6:30 p.m. at the Austin Public Library

Tuesday, Sept. 17

  • Explore Your Community Ethnic Business Tour, 6 p.m. at K’nyaw Grocery Market

Wednesday, Sept. 18

  • Citizenship Day Celebration at Adult Education, 11 a.m. at Riverland Community College, East Building Room C129
  • Riverland Voices and Stories, noon at the Riverland Community College Library
  • Sumner Flag Walk, 1:45 p.m. at Sumner Elementary School

Thursday, Sept. 19

  • Inviting Table Dinner (hosted by the Welcome Center), 5:30 p.m. El Mariachi (Limited seating, RSVP at

Friday, Sept. 20

  • Hormel Institute Tour, 10 a.m. at the Hormel Institute
  • Austin Area Minority Business Project Luncheon featuring Keynote Speaker Joe Mahon, Regional Outreach Director at the  Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hormel Historic Home (RSVP requested at

Saturday, Sept. 21

  • Harvest Fest Expo, 9 a.m. at Austin Horace Park

Sunday, Sept. 22

  • New Immigrant and Refugee Visions Documentary Screening and Facilitated Conversation, 2 p.m. at the Austin Public Library

Schedule of Events


• Fall Luncheon, noon at the Mower County Senior Center. Usher in the fall season with a delicious luncheon featuring a mixed green salad, brown sugar and garlic pork loin with baby carrots and roasted potatoes and dessert. Cost is $7.50 for members and $8.50 for non-members. As always, there will be entertainment. RSVP by stopping by the Senior Center front desk or call 507-433-2370.

• Second Floor Gallery Opening – Mary Nordeng and Jamie Kouba, 5 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. Free and open to the public. This reception and gallery celebrates the textile art of Mary Nordeng and Jamie Kouba. Gallery show goes through Oct. 26. For more information, go or call 507-434-0934.


• Second Annual Walk for Life, 10 a.m. at East Side Lake. Come out for a leisurely walk around the lake, door prizes, games, activities, food, and fun. All activities are free. Consider taking pledges for your walk – every person who turns in a sponsor sheet with even one donation (and yes…you can sponsor yourself) will be entered into our door prizes drawing. Proceeds benefit Rachel’s Hope, supporting their mission of helping families in need. For more information, call 507-437-7595.

• Kids’ Studio – Mermaid Painting on Canvas, 10:30 a.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. With Krystal Lennie. For kids ages 5-10. Cost is $5. To sign up or for more information, go to or call 507-434-0934.

• Family Art Studio, 1 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. Drop in as a family and get creative with materials provided. Free; all ages encouraged to attend and create together. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. No registration required. Funded by the Austin Area Foundation. For more information, go to or call 507-434-0934.

• Classic Wheels Event, 1-5 p.m. at Good Samaritan Society Comforcare. Featuring cars, bikes and motorcycles in the visitor’s parking lot. Will be held Sept. 15 in the event of inclement weather. For more information, email

• Minnesota Southbound Rollers vs. A-Town Roller Girls, 7 p.m. at Packer Arena. Last bout of the season – come out and support your local women’s roller derby team.


• Rochester Area Handbells, 3 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church. All are invited to attend this freewill offering concert. Light treats to follow.

• String Chamber Recital, 4 p.m. at Austin Congregational UCC. Free concert featuring classical and current pop pieces.

• 160th Anniversary Celebration, at Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church, 58251 105th St. in Lyle.

  • Worship Service – 10 a.m.
  • Lunch – 11:30 a.m.
  • Games, rides, bouncy houses, self-guided cemetery walk, old car display and horse/wagon rides – noon
  • Comedy and history entertainment – 2:30 p.m.
  • Six Mile Grove Bank Concert and wood fire pizza – 4:30-7:30 p.m.