Tradition Fest set at DHS

Raymond Rosas and his band are set to play at the Tradition Fest on Saturday.

Boys & Girls Club teams with Dunkirk Public Schools for Saturday event

TRADITION FEST features folk and traditional music, dance, ritual, storytelling, language, games, arts, and food to sample. Tradition-bearers will demonstrate, interpret and present folk beliefs, practices and history through hands-on and audience participation opportunities. Special traditions and folk practices from Polish, Native American, African-American, Puerto Rican and Mexican cultures will be presented.


Noon to 1:30 p.m.

Polish Wigilia traditions will be introduced by local tradition-bearer Michele Starwalt. Area youth Olivia McCann, Sophia Burrows, Lily Yonkers and Addison Helwig will demonstrate Polish traditional dance. Sr. Andrew of Blessed Mary Angela Parish will lead Polish youth in song. Geralyn Matajowski will display her collection of Polish artifacts. Jessica Boice will demonstrate the art of Wycinanki (Polish cut paper). Frank Farina will play Polish music on the accordion. Pysanki Polish egg writing and Polish food demonstrations and samples will be part of the event.


1:30 to 3 p.m.

Native American dance, music, and storytelling (by Bill Crouse and the Allegany Indian River Dancers). Sandra Dowdy, founder of the Faith Keepers School, will share family and food traditions, as well as Native American foods to sample. Demonstrations in traditional beadwork (Kari Kennedy), basket weaving (Penny Minner) and Corn Husk Doll making (Debbie Hoag) will be offered. Peter Jones will demonstrate traditional ceramic pottery techniques. Displays and demonstrations of other Native American traditions will be included.


3 to 4:30 p.m.

The Friendship Baptist Church adult choir will delight guests with African-American Gospel singing. The Youth Choir will perform a “Praise Dance.” Justin Whitfield, Friendship Baptist Church choir director, will share perspectives on African-American history and how the tradition of Gospel singing has impacted his life. A poetry reading by Virginia Harper will enrich all present. Delores Mitchell will share favorite African-American traditional soul food recipes, including collard greens, black-eyed peas and fried chicken.


4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

A Mexican Day of the Dead altar display will be shared along with Mexican traditional music. Alma Segura, owner of El Molcagete/Mexican Grill in Fredonia and Alma Latina Mex in Dunkirk, will talk about Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) traditions in her family. Eloy Bautista will translate and contribute to the conversation concerning local Mexican families about their traditions.

Mexican foods will be available to sample. The musical trio Bennett Brass (Logan Bennett, Landon T. Gray and Devin Bennett) will perform traditional Mexican mariachi band music.


5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Maria DeJesus, respected Puerto Rican tradition bearer, will talk about Puerto Rican Three Kings Day traditions and demonstrate traditional Puerto Rican dance with area youth. Her incredible Santos carving will also be displayed. Puerto Rican folk music and Aguinaldos (caroling) traditions will be performed by regionally-acclaimed musician Raymond Rosas and his band. Puerto Rican traditional recipes will be shared and homemade Puerto Rican foods will be available to sample.

Visitors will also enjoy displays of cultural artifacts highlighting other cultures, as well as a variety of local and time-honored traditions. These will include: Traditional spinning wheel presentation by Carol Gates; dry needle felting by Dell Gates; tatting (lace making) by Analiese Bruegel; an enchanting collection of Irish heritage by Jim O’Roarke; Calligraphy demonstration and custom-made samples by Patricia Greenstein; a fascinating display of Italian heritage tradition by CIAO; Alexa Papadimatos, Greek culture; traditions of creativity and innovation through history by Paul Bock; Calligraphy by Patty Greenstein; Native American Student Union of Fredonia State of New York table display; the SUNY Fredonia Intercultural Center, and much more.

Farhana Siddiqui will share traditions and artifacts from Pakistan. Grandmother Spider, an herbalist and founder of Spider Herbs, will present her knowledge of herb and plants found in the local environment, including plant identification, and herbal products to sample. Baked goods and sweets from Heather Pietro’s Batter Up Bakery will be available to sample and purchase.

Author and tradition-bearer, Sue Cobb, will share backpacking traditions of the Chautauqua County Quest Program. D’Arsie Manzella, owner of Mamacita Beadworks, will demonstrate jewelry-making traditions and techniques. Anne Bentley and Carolyn Wood will talk about Swedish traditions, including the charming tradition of “fika,” an important part of Swedish life.

Area agencies, institutions and organizations will also be on hand to represent their “traditions of caring” in the community. These include the Dunkirk City School, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County, Salvation Army traditions by Samantha Lockard; Girl Scout Traditions by Linnea Carlson and Laurie Maurucci; Dunkirk Free Library, Darwin Barker Library, CASAC – Chautauqua Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Council, and others.

The “Community Culture Quilt” will be on display as well. Guests are invited to make a quilt square depicting their culture or their hopes, dreams or wishes for themselves, their family, their home, their children or their community, to be included in this special quilt. Girl Scout Troop 20237 of Dunkirk will be on hand to assist.

The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County and Dunkirk City Schools wish to thank community members and volunteers for their hard work and dedication in making this event possible. This event was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, as well as the Seneca Nation of Indians, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, OBSERVER, WDOE 1410, 96 KIX FM, Goya Foods, McDonald’s Restaurant and Tops Friendly Market.

The mission of the Boys and Girls Club is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. The center provides a safe place to learn, grow and provide hope and opportunity.

The Tradition Fest is a “pre-launch” event for the CREATE Project, slated to be officially launched in 2018. The CREATE Project is an arts-based community intervention designed to help the Dunkirk -Fredonia community embrace the goal to become free of child-abuse and neglect, and to become a place where all children can achieve their highest potential.

For more information, contact the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County, 366-1061, Kate Piazza, executive director.