Sunday, July 01, 2001

Twp. festival aims to foster community feel

West Chester event ends today

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Tristate past and future came together in celebration this weekend.

        West Chester's first Freedom Fest aims to create a sense of community in a suburban area whose population is transient and increasingly diverse.

[photo] Crowds visit the Voice of America Park on Saturday for the West Chester Freedom Fest.
(Ernest Coleman photos)
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        Within the framework of a festival at Voice of America Park, organizers included a generous slice of history and a taste of the many cultures that enrich West Chester and Liberty townships.

        Grassy Run Historical Arts Committee's pioneer tent village allows festival visitors to see aspects of frontier life up close.

        Members of this Clermont County group fashion historically accurate clothing, craft their weapons and learn skills that helped frontiersmen and pioneers survive.

        Their “village” includes a silversmith, blacksmith and tinsmith as well as demonstrations of domestic trades such as spinning.

        “When people can see it, touch it, hear it and taste it, they remember it,” said Grassy Run president Ron Shouse, explaining the group's approach to history.

[photo] Collin Dillingham, 5, sports a serious mug and happy faces at the West Chester Freedom Fest.
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        Under a large red, white and blue tent nearby is Freedom Fest's multicultural area. In addition to an exhibit representing African-American history, there are booths showcasing countries such as Ireland and India.

        “We would really like to see the multicultural aspect of this festival grow,” said Greta Murray, whose display represented her native Scotland.

        “There's a lot of different cultures that have come to this area. The Chamber recognizes that, and this is our way of showing it,” said Joseph A. Hinson, president of the Southeastern Butler County Chamber of Commerce. “The West Chester-Liberty Arts Council has basically put this (exhibit) together.”

        Under one canopy, Indian teen-agers demonstrated henna dyeing and the Islamic Center of West Chester featured clothing and artwork of the Middle East.

   • What: West Chester Freedom Fest.
   • When: Noon to 6 p.m. today.
   • Where: Voice of America Park, Tylersville Road at Cox Road (enter from Cox Road).
   • Admission: Free, but donations of non-perishable food are welcome.
   • Information: 759-7301.
        Egyptian residents of West Chester presented “Jewels of the Nile,” Egyptian artwork, textiles and other crafts.

        Entertainment a was as diverse as West Chester's population. There were Irish and Punjabi dancers. The African-American Families of West Chester performed, as did a Scottish bagpiper.

        “What we're trying to do is bring this community close,” said Dorothy Roth, who helped organize the multicultural tent.

        Freedom Fest follows many American traditions. Saturday's schedule began with a parade, swelled with patriotic music performed by the West Chester Symphony and ended with fireworks.

        The celebration continues today with games, a car show, strolling entertainers, basketball and plenty of food. Country performers Stagger Lee, Jericho and the Todd Henry Band will provide live music.

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- Twp. festival aims to foster community feel
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