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17th African American Heritage Festival starts

By Staff | Aug 14, 2009

The 17th Annual Jefferson County African American Culture & Heritage Festival is set for August 14-16 with celebrations held in Charles Town and in Ranson, WV, sponsored by the Jefferson County branch of the NAACP.

The theme of this year’s festival will be to honor the descendants of John Brown’s Raid.

Organizers say it is a time to come together and celebrate the rich African American culture in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

The weekend offers plenty offun and activities for the whole family. Kicking off the weekend on Friday, Aug. 14, the NAACP Jefferson County Branch will sponsor a reception and program to honor the descendants of John Brown’s Raid.

The reception will take place in Charles Town,in the parking lot behind the Courthouse on the corner of North Samuel and Liberty Street. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Music will be provided and tours of the courthouse will be available. “This is a great opportunity for people to meet and mingle with descendants from the John Brown Raid”, said Lyn Widmyer, chairperson for the Descendants Reception.

Saturday, Aug. 15, organizers will host a free Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Star Lodge #1 Masonic Hall, located at the intersection of Avis and South Lawrence Street in Charles Town, adjacent to the festival grounds. The festival grounds open to Vendors at 11a.m., followed by a parade at noon through Ranson and Charles Town.

The 17th Annual African American Culture and Heritage Festival parade begins at noon on Saturday. The Grand Marshals are Mrs. Bertha Jones and Mrs. Genevieve Monroe. Mrs. Bertha Jones is a Charter & Life Member of the Jefferson County Branch of The NAACP and served as Treasurer for many years. Mrs. Genevieve Monroe is a Life Member of the NAACP andactive community volunteer. This will be theseventeenth year the community has celebrated the African American Culture and Heritage and it is one of the few African American parade and festivals held in the state. The parade route begins on West 2nd Avenue and South George Street in Ranson and proceeds south to Washington Street in Charles Town, West on Washington Street to 300 South Lawrence Street where it disbands at the festival fairground.

The Festival fairground offers something for everyone on Saturday, in addition to the parade and health fair: a Moon bounce 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Black Exhibits will be available to the public at Fisherman’s Hall from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pony Rides will be offered 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the School Playground at Wright Denny Intermediate School, across from the fairground.

On Saturday, located on the festival grounds, music will fill the air as the Rockville Marching Wildcats perform at 2 p.m. followed by band demonstrations and the Karl Miller Gospel Revue from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; The One Love Band is scheduled to perform from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.; The “Something Special” Band from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.; the Jewels of the James Brown Revue 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Soule Intention Band will play from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. followed by a Youth Block Dance from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.?The weekend wraps up on Sunday, Aug. 16, with a play, “Frederick Douglass Meeting with John Brown” featuring the noted actor Fred Morsell will be held at 3 p.m. in the Betty Roper Auditorium at Wright Denny Intermediate School in Charles Town.

“The festival offers music, food, arts & crafts, entertainment, and information vendors. Children can enjoy free pony rides and moon bounce while teens can come together for a youth block dance party from 9 p.m. to11 p.m. in front of the Star Lodge #1 Masonic Hall,” said George Rutherford, President of the NAACP Jefferson County Branch. For more information on the festival and its activities, contact George Rutherford at (304) 725-9610 or Warren Stewart (304) 229-7248.