During opening remarks Saturday afternoon Sept. 18, Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser thanked a laundry list of officials who made the city’s third Multicultural Fair a possibility, and emphasized the city is embracing change.
Esser recalled the marching orders given when the Sun Prairie City Council passed a resolution in 2015 “directing us as a city to begin exploring diversity and inclusion and making it an issue within the city.”
Because of that resolution, the city created the Ad Hoc Steering Committee on Diversity, which directed the city to examine hiring practices and hire a more diverse workforce, but also to “provide a better understanding of different individuals in communities within the City of Sun Prairie and encourage local organizations to host special events.”
Sun Prairie, the mayor said during his remarks, reflects what is happening elsewhere.
“What’s going on in Sun Prairie is what’s going on throughout the United States, the state of Wisconsin, and Dane County — is that we are changing,” Esser said. “We are moving away from the historical white person society we were, to a time when we are a much more diverse community. And our desire with the Multicultural Fair is that we get to see the diversity that is here in Sun Prairie.”
Among the diversity showcased at the seven hour festival: a Native American dance performance, singing and dancing by Team Adjani and Divas of Bollywood demonstrating Indian dance; an extensive performance by the Sun Prairie Area Choir; traditional music and dance from Guinea and Mali in West Africa; a Latin Dance Band playing arrangements of Mediterranean, Northern and Southern American Merengue, Cumbia Salsa and Bachata; Irish dancing, reggae music, Hmong dancing, and more.
Esser said the results already compiled by the city’s housing study show the diversity in Sun Prairie is 20% of individuals that are other than a white background.
“My number one reason for wanting to be mayor is that we are going through a time of change in the United States. We’re going through a time when we are becoming a more diverse country, and that applies to the state of Wisconsin, the county of Dane and the City of Sun Prairie,” Esser told the crowd assembled on the lawn near the Sun Prairie Public Library.
“That change can either come easy — we embrace it and bring it on and say, ‘it’s good and we support it’ — or we can resist it and say, no, no, no, we don’t want it,” Esser said. “And if you’re somebody that looks like me, and you’re my age, you have not grown up with that change that’s taking place. And it would be easy for me to lock my feet in the ground and say, ‘no, you’re going to have to push me out of the way.’ But my approach is — and it is for the entire city — that we embrace that change.”
“What we’re seeing here today is the Sun Prairie now, but especially the Sun Prairie of the future, to the extent we embrace that, welcome that and make that happen,” the mayor said, referring to the fair.
“We will make this a better community, a better place to live. And my number one desire is that Sun Prairie be seen as a place that is welcoming to everybody without regard to ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age, gender, or anything else,” Esser added. “Everybody is welcome here and they’re safe here. And we become a Mecca for people that want that out of their life. And I think that’s possible. That’s why we’re here today. And thank you very much for being here. This is a great event and I am so happy to see you all here. Thank you very much.”