Origins Carry the Way Through – Part I

With the completion of June 8th’s Festival and with Troy Hayne’s as the motivation for the June 8th 5k, , I am not sure many knew the origins of how this idea was thought of, but much of the thanks owed to so many needs to start at the beginning.

In starting a literary magazine from scratch in a new place, obviously, there is a challenge and frustration of time, money, and where and how do I start over, all over after a seven year period of success in a previous location.  Wanting to involve the community immediately, we decided to bring back a Battle of the Bands event as we did for several years at Seaford High.  James Weiler immediately loved the idea and has supported this effort, from Open Mic to the idea of Battle of the Bands as a joint fundraiser for National Honor Society and our literary art magazine.  While the energy and expectation was high, by the time August 2018 to January 2019 occurred, the hope of gathering artists that would be intriguing and exciting – it seemed either for us  to forget it or divert the idea until we were in a position to be able to create a group large enough to have a Battle of the Bands.  A newer idea came into play, creating a community festival that included as a part, and build that component will also having local businesses involved with assisting a festival that benefits the local community.  It fits well as the goal of our literary magazine was about community, roots of where we came from, where we are now, and where we hope to head in the future.  It seemed a proper direction.

The staff of The Riff, our newly created literary art magazine, held tough the whole way through this process.  The goal was to generate enough funds to afford the trip to New York to present at the CSPA in New York as a new literary publication in 2019.  Though we did not have enough time clearly to prepare a whole new publication in that short of time without putting together a proper staff – we were busy.  We instituted Open Mic’s, participated as a staff at Festival of Words, sent out a call for art and reached out to local artists, and participated in a local Art Gallery where our staffer Hannah and I had pieces displayed.  We are, believe it or not, still in the process of putting together our vision for March 2020, as well as all the previous goals, but the largest feat achieved was yesterday’s start of a Festival that we hope, will start a continuity of better and more organized and efficient festivals that celebrate a sense of community all over Delaware.

Regan as Editor in Chief and Alexis our Assistant Editor in Chief helped define the theme as ” “Our Journeys, Our Stories, Our Delaware.” In light of so many events that are STILL occurring this year, that theme still rings true as who we are right now as a new literary art magazine staff. They are the rock that remains steady and has a clear vision that a community involving art is possible.  Alastornia and Hannah stepped forward and became beacons of ideas and support to make the festival as well as finding new paths that will led our magazine forward.  Gabby continued to insure we were keeping the clearing house of art up to date on comments as well as Esther coming up with support to show this magazine might be a slow process but one that does not need to disappear and one that will grow with patience. The day of the event Alexis, Regan, Alastornia, and Hannah insured that the festival would keep moving forward effectively thanks to their support all day.  Alastornia, Angela, and Rebekah’s devotion to calling so many community members leading up to the event – PRICELESS beyond belief.  Add to that also graduate Kaelyn Parks – wow their phone and email contacts in the weeks leading up to this event allowed so much to happen, they are responsible for at least 80% of the contact that went out to participants.

The magazine The Riff is not in a place where I want to be as far as timeline. I just want MORE now, but I also realize the magazine is in a position to be at the center of the community as far as events and drawing people in, and maybe this is the starting place rather than progressing as a collection of art right now.  I feel our start is not the same start that Repentino. (Instagram – #repentino) was in another country.  I just have to come to terms with that, and be patient as this process develops and morphs into who we will become as a staff and publication.

The below are groups and individuals that made it quite possible that the event that occurred yesterday even occurred at all.

Greenwood VFWWanting to be more of a community member, willing to host youth events that involve adults in the mix, is the added element I respect.  The Greenwood VFW AND auxiliary does so much already with nominating individuals for awards, both educators and students, and providing resources for our school locally, but the ability to serve in a larger capacity for the schools and community is there.  This ability to do so, and willing to want to do more, is a testimony to not just one festival, but what is possible for other events in the future.  Our hope is their generosity in allowing this event to process will lead to more events that bring our community together.

Donna Carter and the Greenwood Public Library- From the very beginning, Ms Carter as the librarian at the Greenwood Library helped keep all the planned details in check and hosted a HUGE collection of events at the Greenwood Public library.  This allowed individuals to be able to take in the events behind the VFW, in the Greenwood Library, as well as the 5k that started in the library parking lot.  She was the half brain of this event that enabled a start to such a wide array of choices for such a festival.  The ties she has been willing to create to connect school libraries to public libraries? Priceless.  We even were able to present about this at the Maryland Library Association Conference this year, which featured a powerful and strong tie to these two forces in our communities, public libraries and school libraries.

Greenwood Police Department/Fire Department/Town of Greenwood-\Meeting with me frequently before the event and giving me time to present, as well as providing their support and guidance on the routes, process, and service for the day of this event was everything.  Seeing their families also involved in this day was more than most individuals could ever want tied to an event. It makes a difference in everything when you see organizations such as these provide the steps to have a successful event to bring communities together, and it is even more rewarding to see absolute supporters of all the community in such great organizations as these three in Greenwood.

Woodbridge Class of 2020 – It is difficult in my memory to have seen a select number of students from a Class willing to be so involved.  However, add Indya, Jasmine, Rachel, Trey, Anthony, and Confidence as students as a part of the Class of 2020, and all year they have supported other clubs, organizations and community events.  Amazing group.  The day of the festival Indya and Jasmine, Anthomy made sure their presence was all over the festival and Rachel participating in the Select Ensemble all showed how they supported Trey and Troy during this time in their lives.  Confidence, while attending a HOBY Leadership conference did help behind the scenes leading up to this festival to make sure alot of loose ends would be tied together for the day of.  A soon to be graduating class that will be very difficult to say goodbye to for many many countless reasons.

Woodbridge MCJROTC- There is NO WAY at ALL this 5k event would have occurred as smoothly as it did had it not been for the time, energy, and planning of the MCJROTC at Woodbridge.  The planning, marking, biking ahead of the pack, monitoring, supporting, setting up, tearing down, and color guard event, and MORE of their efforts – this was the key to success for this 5k – and made the difference in a dream of a full day that became a reality.  Add to this fact they made the festival easier thanks to their supervision, their support to all vendors, their presence- add to all this and you have a group that was the backbone of the festival that many do not are lucky enough to have help support them. Their Halloween 5k will be one you need to attend to see how far reaching their actions are into the community – not just a military focus but a community one that impacts our community in Delaware.

Woodbridge Select Ensemble – The ability and willingness for many of the seniors to come back AFTER graduation, and to perform for an event that was officially in their summer, this says alot about Ms Workman and her select ensemble.  When you heard them, you understood why they were an important part of the festival and words, let alone song, cannot capture how great it was that they were a part of this festival and willing to show the community what a talented group of music-talented individuals can do to add to the immediate community.

Karen Johnson and the Bridgeville Public Library- Another key librarian, (see a pattern here?) not only came to the rescue for the trophies that would become the 3d printed fours that were for the 5k, she continually offered her insight, editing, and advice regarding the organization, publicity, and festival in general – without her, much chaos, a huge lack of foresight in the festival overall, and behind the scenes support that made on the scene results fantastic.  Priceless support for this event.

Carmen Chona – With a fantastic announcing voice at the 5k, as well as dropping all to provide medical attention if needed, to helping with ice and resources for the event, having Carmen at this festival, and supporting this event before the festival – it made a HUGE difference. Having an Athletic Trainer like Carmen is priceless as was seen on this day, so imagine what she does for others all around the rest of the year!

Woodbridge Roaming Raiders, FFA, NHS – These groups individually could have a paragraph alone on their involvement and how they educate their members on being international and local ambassadors of society.  From agriculture, to culture, to horticulture, to honoring the success of academics alongside these three community categories, these groups work hard to support the endeavors they take on to open doors for others.  If you do not know much or even a little about these groups you need to do so.  Their willingness to sacrifice a day towards their goals is step one in knowing they want to further their community through the education of themselves as well as their community.  Their presence was why we need a larger attendance at festival ideas like so conversations and awareness of what they want to do, can be connected to existing members in our community.

Rebekah Harding and Angela Zamora – What these young ladies did during the school year was to bend over backwards and create a gaming community of students interested in board, card, and video games.  This lasted for months at Woodbridge High and garnered the interest of students that had not previously had an ability to rein in their outlet for talent for games of all sorts.  These ladies organized a gaming series of competitions that brought individuals to the library as a center of interacting with various games, and ultimately the drive to exceed better at grades to continue to interacts with others in the community.  Their grass roots energy will push us to incorporate a gaming aspect to the festival that will take root and in fact, grow as we strategize on how to make this an integral aspect of the festival.  Patience and replanning this initiative started by them will be an exciting addition to the art we know as gaming in so many forms. Add to this the HOURS they spent phoning individuals to attend the festival and you need to know how responsible they are for getting the word out to so many in such a short time. Despite having her wisdom teeth taken out the day before, Angela’s energy and contributions leading up to this festival, Rebekah filling in double time for Angela’s absence during her recovery the day of, these two made the festival happen for so many countless reasons.

Andrea Paun – A priceless individual who used to work with me as a volunteer at the Baltimore Aquarium, she is still there and I am not yet returned due to time constraints, her advice, and help up to the wee hours of the June 8th event made so many creative things happen.  Her materials list, her creativity, her driving from MARYLAND to come just to help prepare materials for the 5k and festival, her patience, her belief that giving is more powerful than the sacrifices she had to make, her contribution to destressing the animals at the petting zoo during the festival and even more?  It means so much more to me when you see such dear individuals in their willing to sacrifice so much for a sense of building community. I feel if someone out of the state believes this so much, then someone in our community should too, correct?

Jon Rene Holmes /Syerra Smith and Family – Without the constant help of Syerra during the day at school, the help of her sister and her mother, none of the additions that make the 5k so live, as well as the festival would have occurred.  Syerra must have contacted a hundred individuals leading up to the festival, and their connection to Mr. Moore an amazing DJ and resident of Greenwood who volunteered his services for this festival and 5k for Troy Haynes, says everything we wanted to say about how we define community.  Their behind the scenes involvement made the on the scene event happen, period.  Priceless individuals that helped before and during this event and without them nothing would occur. 

Tim Moore /Slim Street – The availability and willingness to give to this event and donate everything he had to the 5k, to the festival, to arriving at 5:00 AM and staying until the last person left the field.  To immediately on the spot committing to presenting students, performances, announcements, equipment and MORE – committing to it all and allowing his whole Saturday to be devoted to the community – I simply need not to say anymore ; those attending see how much of a contribution he made to make this festival feel like a festival thanks to Slim Street Sounds.

There ARE SO MANY MORE, and this took me 3 hours!

Amity, Hungry Howies, and A TON MORE made this event happen, so please stay posted for Part II coming soon to let you in on what has to happen for a festival such as this, 5k and festival both to happen thanks to those that support it.




About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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