Great weather and great events made for a busy Saturday in Kent. From the Community Day festivities and the emergency drill on Kent State campus in the morning, through the wine festival and jazz bands on the Home Savings Plaza in the late afternoon, and wrapping up with more live music downtown and even uptown at The Robin Hood — Kent was the place to be this weekend.
If you didn’t happen to catch it, Community Day is a grass roots celebration of fun, food and fellowship. It’s an outgrowth of the monthly Community Dinners that bring together Kent folks of all races, nationalities and colors to break bread around the dinner table, out of the belief that sharing food is a great way to be reminded of our common humanity — from which we build the bonds that give meaning to the word community. (It’s a pretty philosophical kind of group.)
The Community Dinner moves around Kent each month, often using Kent church space to host the dinners, which typically run from 6 pm to 7 pm. The event organizers extend an open invitation for everyone to participate with the only condition being that if you come, bring some food to pass. There’s no fee to eat, but there is an expectation of giving something, and even homeless folks have come bringing a loaf of bread to share.
Once a year the Community Dinner transforms into the Community Day picnic that includes music, children’s activities, games, and of course, food. Last year the Kent State Choir did a terrific concert, entertaining the crowd with a great blend of traditional and modern songs. Throw in the Kent Children’s Bicentennial Choir and a beard competition and you’ve got a recipe for fun, which it was.
I didn’t make this year’s event but I understand that the Shelly Company was a sponsor. Police Officer Marty Gillilan attended and in his usual professional (and understated) manner he shared the following remarks:
“The Shelly Co. put on a great little festival for the Kent Community. There was a good turnout and plenty of activities for the children that attended. The food provided by Shelly Materials was outstanding.”
Emergency Drill on Campus
I was invited to be a victim in the planned emergency drill (were they trying to tell me something?) that was held on Kent State campus this weekend but regretably I had other plans. I’ve participated in these types of disaster drills before, and when done right, they’re a great way to sharpen skills and learn how plans and people hold up under real-live emergency conditions.
The thing is, with these types of drills, you get a chance to see how well the resources you have do — or don’t — work together. It’s important to remember that each agency trains and practices on its own all the time, but rarely do so many agencies come together to see how well they respond as a team. You only get to test team skills with these sorts of large emergency simulations.
I’m sure I’ll get to hear a debriefing of what we learned on Monday, but I know they were planning a “dirty bomb” situation that would involve haz mat response and some form of hostage situation. I hope things went well — and I hope we never have to use these skills, but it’s good to know that if we do, Kent is ready.
Wine and Art Festival
My family and I did have a chance to be at the first annual Wine and Art festival — and what a festival it was. Attendance was better than expected, which meant they had to get a second shipment of wine tasting glasses rushed over (a good problem to have).
As hoped by the event organizers, folks even came down from our neighboring cities in Aurora and Hudson (with wallets in hand) to partake in the local vineyard experience set up on the Home Savings Plaza. The jazz band kept up a steady beat with just the right mix of slow and up-tempo jam sessions.
As I mingled through the crowd, everyone was very supportive of this first time effort, and they were already talking about next year. Hopefully, we won’t have to make them wait a whole year, as Main Street Kent has plans to keep the good times rolling downtown with a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a couple of weeks and hopefully a few more Indians games (playoffs) on the big screen downtown. Go Tribe!
Trying to bring back Kent’s live music tradition, a number of bars got together this weekend and arranged for live music to be heard all over town. I saw bands at the Gazebo and at the Robin Hood and I was told there were others jamming in different venues downtown.
I did get to visit the remodeled Ray’s Place Saturday night and although they didn’t have bands when I was there, I love the new construction work that they did, opening up the front with windows, new seating and a bunch of new plasma televisions that allowed us to keep a close watch on the Oakland vs. Cleveland baseball game.
And if you haven’t noticed, Water Street Tavern is busy with it’s expansion next store with the new cafe seating/outdoor plaza on the roof. Great stuff.
There is so much going on these days, we really need to look at better ways of getting the word of the events out there so people don’t miss out. I’m thinking that it may be time to revisit Council’s request to look at possible computerized message boards (like the one in front of Roosevelt High School) that scrolls information about upcoming festivities downtown somewhere.
Previously, at Council’s request, we had looked at the intersection of 43 and 59 as a good site for an electronic message board, but it’s hard to figure out the best spot/angle for it to be where the motorists see it, without it being too distracting and causing accidents. They’re also not cheap ($25,000) but with so many events going on both on and off campus, it probably makes sense to look at this investment.
I keep thinking that with the Liquid Crystal Institute here, we really should have an LCD screen welcoming people to Kent and posting important news and notes. Anyone got any good contacts with our local LCD folks?
I’ll keep you posted.