Brian Neben Lexington Clipper-Herald
LEXINGTON – In a celebration of the culture of the Lexington community, the United By Culture Festival took place over a three-day period. More than 2,000 people attended the festivities on Sunday.
After two years of being held virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the United By Culture festival has returned with a slate of activities beginning Friday, August 19 and continuing through Sunday, August 21.
Gladys Godinez, co-founder of United By Culture Media, said she was able to organize three days of events thanks to new opportunities that arose. She noted that they were able to attract more partners after the creation of United By Culture Media last year.
The United By Culture festivities kicked off Friday night with a shopping tour of downtown Lexington, hosted in conjunction with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension.
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Godinez said the idea behind the tour was to get people to know the businesses and their owners. She said that sometimes people may not feel comfortable going into a company if they don’t know the culture; the tour was a chance for people to connect and understand better.
During the tour, attendees learned about the history, operations, and community impact of Teresa’s Tortillas Market, Amy’s Bakery, African International Market, Tienda Guatemalteca La Bendicion, Kids Fashion, Twins Fashion, Casa Vasquez, La Bamba, and El Viejo Rinconcitio Restaurant.
Godinez said the tour was essentially “global”, with participants getting a taste of Somali, Mexican, Salvadoran and Guatemalan culture, among others.
On Saturday, in partnership with Keep Lexington Beautiful, a community cleanup took place in the morning. Godinez said she was the vice president of Keep Lexington Beautiful and wanted to organize an event that would motivate people to keep their community clean. There were about 20 people who helped pick up litter downtown.
Later that evening, a free screening of “Daniel Visits a New Neighborhood” was held in partnership with the Majestic Theater, PBS Kids and Nebraska Public Media.
Godinez said she had worked with PBS and Nebraska Public Media before and wanted them to host an event in Lexington. She said the performance was well attended, with more than 90 people coming to the theatre.
The film is based on the show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”, the characters include Daniel Tiger, his little sister Margaret and their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tiger. Teacher Harriet is her kindergarten teacher and her classmates are Miss Elaina, O the Owl, Katerina and Prince Wednesday.
The show consists of two 11-minute segments linked by a common socio-emotional theme, such as disappointment and sadness or anger and gratitude. The theme also uses a musical pattern phrase, which the show calls “Strategy Songs”, to reinforce the theme and help children remember life lessons. Many “strategic songs” are available as albums or singles.
On Sunday, the main festival kicked off with all-day events at Kirkpatrick Memorial Park. The master of ceremonies was DJ Lopez, originally from Lexington.
There were a host of vendors in the park including, CASA, Chikis Pikis, Dawson County Children’s Museum, Daalo Dani’s Cakes, Dawson County Family Partners, Nebraska Appleseed, Fascination, Enamorate Te Ti Sweet Sour and Spicy Candy Shop, Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant, HomeTown Threads, La Boutique, Lexington Unifut Soccer Club, Lexington Regional Health Center, Lore Lopez, Los Tres Elotes, Mary Jay Business, Melaine’s Lemonade, Lexington Middle School vendor show, Nela Jade Creations, Nick Gyros, Pequenos Emprendedores, Rita Martinez , Rooted in Relationships, Spanish Travel Group, St Ann’s – El Ministerio Roas Mistica, Steph Scherr and Ana Castro, Two Rivers Public Health Department and Viaero Wireless.
Performances were organized by Greenblatt and Seay, Destruction Drill Team, Mariachi Los Andariegos, Daniel Martinez, Holly Rickertsen, Raices De Mi Tierra – a folk group. The evening ended with various games and prize giving before the official closing.
While they’re still putting together a final tally, Godinez said more than 2,000 people attended the festivities on Sunday.
United By Culture Board Member Stephanie Novoa said: “I’m so thankful the event was a success, it wasn’t perfect but it was a success. Completely overwhelmed by the number We received estimated numbers today and are pleased to report that we had over 2,000 people in attendance throughout the day.”
“There were some really heartwarming moments throughout the day – when kids showed up for wristbands and asked how much it cost and their eyes lit up as we said it was free – it was cool Also, when the destruction drill the team (the group of performers) came around and invited people on stage to join in their performance – I had tears in my eyes seeing people of different skin colors, ages and cultures having a fun time together was so cool!! Sunday wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsors and people who support United by Culture Media,” said declared Nova.
“I hear a lot of comments all the time like, ‘Lexington should have more events; Lexington should do this and that etc…” Coming from the planning side of things – it’s hard work! It takes a lot of time and dedication. Lots of time away from family attending meetings and discussing details Lots of stress worrying about if you’re doing it right and the reviews and if we have enough money and if the community will support you and the list goes on,” Nova said.
“It takes a team effort to make something like this happen. Our team, supporters, volunteers and sponsors made it all possible,” Nova concluded.
Reflecting on the weekend of events, Godinez describes the result as “magnificent”. She said it was their motivation to celebrate the culture of the community and the festival is that desire turned into action.
She said that although the planning for the event takes months, it is a true labor of love and would not be possible without all the volunteers and sponsors who helped organize the events. Godinez said she likes to see it all come to fruition.
“It all started with the need to help members of our immigrant community. In late 2016, Maricela Novoa, Nancy Pinedo, Karina Lupercio, Rosangela Godinez, and Gladys Godinez were meeting to figure out how best to respond to a potential immigration raid in the community of Lexington, Nebraska. During various meetings and understanding that as a group we could help our community with more. Karina said ‘Let’s party!’ and that’s how the United by Culture festival began,” according to the United By Culture website.
In 2021, the group decided to expand its reach and launched United by Culture Media, Inc., to spotlight and elevate stories from diverse backgrounds.
Gladys Godinez and her husband, Chris Cox, initiated the process of formalizing United by Culture Media to ensure that diverse rural stories exist.
Part of the work done by United By Culture Media is communication.
Cox hosts the podcast, Courageous Voices, her goal is to build a positive cultural identity among young adults living in the Heartland. United By Culture’s mission is to create a safe and authentic space where the diversity of rural history exists.
Provide young adults with a physical space with educational amenities and ensure the space is conducive to learning and exploration while being free from ridicule, persecution, racial and gender bias.
Godinez also hosts Courageous Mujer Podcast, which embraces, supports and celebrates Latina women in Nebraska. Nebraska Latinas continued to make a big impact in Nebraska and their stories faded away. The Courageous Mujer podcast ensures there is a space where Latinas can share their stories, mentor others, and reach a wider audience in Nebraska.
- United By Culture Mission: To create a safe and authentic space in which diverse history exists.
- United By Culture Vision: To build a positive cultural identity among people of color living in the Heartland.
- United By Culture Values: We believe in authenticity, respect and collaboration. Everything we do, we do together.
- United By Culture Racial Equity Statement: At United by Culture Media, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are at the heart of our work. We are committed to upholding these values in everything we do.