Refugee awareness and local food come together over lunch at the Westown Farmers Market in downtown Milwaukee June 20.
World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations in 2000 and has been celebrated annually in Milwaukee, a city known for welcoming refugees.
This year’s celebration, which is free and open to the public, will be at Zeidler Park 10 a.m.–2 p.m. during the Westown Farmers Market.
“This event will be a chance to celebrate former refugees contributing to the community as skilled laborers, entrepreneurs, artists, neighbors, and friends,” said Alexander Durtka, Jr., president of the International Institute of Wisconsin, one of the organizations planning the event. “Attendees will have an opportunity to select from an abundance of lunch options while listening to music from immigrant and refugee performers throughout the duration of the farmers market, as well as special programming at noon.”
The celebration is a collaboration between refugee consortium agencies in partnership with the State Refugee Office of the Department of Children and Families.
Refugee-serving agencies throughout the city will participate as well.
“This year’s move to Zeidler Park during the Westown Farmers Market provides a unique opportunity to unite the region’s best farmers, growers, and food producers with the remarkably diverse people that make Milwaukee so special,” Durtka said. “It also represents a broadening of the audience that normally celebrates World Refugee Day, bringing the downtown lunch crowd and the refugee community together for an afternoon of fun, food and fellowship.”
The World Refugee Day celebration June 20 has been preceded by a popular refugee soccer tournament that culminates in a final match following the celebration.
This year’s tournament starts at Lincoln Park June 16, with the final match scheduled for June 20, at MOSE’s Viets Field at 7:30 pm.
“These games will harness the momentum of the World Cup, which takes place in Russia at the same time, and promises to bring infectious intensity and competitive spirit among fans and players alike,” Durtka said.
World Refugee Day celebrations outside of Milwaukee include a day of fishing and barbeque in Oshkosh June 16 and an evening of dining and storytelling at Bowl 91 in Appleton June 17.
Various events will also take place in Madison to celebrate the growing refugee community there.