Celebrate Appalacia Mini Festival

   On Tuesday, April 2, students and staff celebrated the richness of Appalachian heritage with traditional music, dance, stories and food at the Celebrate Appalachia Mini-Festival. The event took place in building 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

   The Celebrate Appalachia Mini-Festival is an event that celebrates the beauty and strength of the Appalachian people and culture.

   The event was hosted by the Appalachian Outreach Department. The people of this department assist students of Appalachian decent in recognizing their heritage by sharing stories and offering life coaching as well as scholarships.

   The department is also open to anyone stopping by who may share the strong values Appalachians hold.

   The morning started with performances by the Russ Childers’ Band followed by a delightful display from the Miami Valley Folk Dancers.

   The traditional acoustic music that was played could easily make any heart nostalgic; some of the instruments used are shared with other cultures (such as the guitar), while other instruments are unique to the Appalachian people (the banjo).

   Russ Childers, of the Russ Childers’ Band, also set up a booth at the event, showcasing and selling his wooden works of art. There were Appalachian toys that almost resembled puppets and were of various farm animals. The sign at the booth read “Goats R Russ.”

   Another booth displayed photographs that were taken in a twelve-year-long project done by a small group of people who were dedicated to learning more about the life of coal miners.

   Photographs of men in caves up to 32 inches high were stretched across the display, as well as some of the faces of the men who go into the mines.

   After the music, Omope Carter-Daboiku held an Appalachian storytelling session. She told of stories her grandmother once shared with her when she was a child living in Appalachia.

   There were tales of animals and giants, and stories that possessed a moral or explanation as to why something is or was.

   Afterward, food was offered to the guests, as students that were a part of Appalachian Outreach presented their May trip to Henderson Settlement in Southern Kentucky, where they will volunteer to help around the settlement.

   The food was phenomenal; you can’t go wrong with warm southern cooking! The dishes included chicken-n-dumplings, collard greens, soup beans, fried apples, cornbread and hot chocolate gravy over biscuits.

   After the Henderson Settlement presentation, Awards of Recognition went out to various people who played and continue to play important roles for the Appalachian Outreach Department.

   Nora Stanger, Coordinator at Appalachian Outreach and part of the Student Affairs Department, explained that Appalachian is not a race, but a culture.

   People from Appalachia originally came from a mixture of Western European countries, such as England, Scotland, Ireland and Italy. Many African Americans who were once slaves or descendants of slaves also resided in the land.

   “I hope that they [students] see the strength of Appalachia. That they’ll even long to experience more of it. I want to dispel the negative stereotypes… stereotypes are so easy to teach, so hard to dispel. So I’m really hoping that people walk away going, ‘Wow, those are such creative, strong, resourceful people. I love them, I want to spend more time with them,’” said Stanger.

   Although there aren’t any more events this semester, the Appalachian Outreach Department will have a photo exhibit in the fall, located in the library loggia.

   They also plan on having Appalachian scholars visit and speak to students about different subjects in the fall as well, and will continue their Quarterly Update Breakfast.

   If any are interested in other Appalachian events, there is also an Appalachian Festival in Coney Island, Cincinnati, on May 10, 11 and 12. 

Yasel Rosado

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