Sidebar: It is advertised that this festival is on the Scioto Mile. It is not! It is west of the River, south of COSI (Center of Science and Industry).
Much of the festival was centered around music and dancing.
Why did you come to the Columbus Caribbean Festival?
I support anything West African and Caribbean. I am for unification. We are all black. I’m about having fun together. We are not that different. If we came together, more we would be able to see how similar we are. The different types of music are fun. For example, reggae, soca, dance hall, hip hop, and afrobeat. It is all influenced by each other. It is fun to hear the different connections.
Where are you from? How often have you come to this festival?
I’m first generation American. My mom is from Port-au-Prince. This my first year here. I am originally from New Jersey. In New Jersey, we have this every year.
How can this be made better?
Incorporate the Haitian culture and a little bit more of all the islands. There was only one tent that had Haitian food. It was good, but there should be a lot more Haitian food and music here. We have music that you can dance to just like Jamaican music.
Where are you from. Did I see you dancing earlier?
I am originally from Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, but I drove from Cleveland to be here. If you play soca music, then I will be up and moving around.
It looks like those dancing are shaking everything at the same time.
It’s never too late for soca. It is a whole body experience. Once soca is in your blood, you chase it. It’s like a high.
It seems like, with all that shaking, people would not be fat.
You see how good we eat. When I arrived, I put my chair down and got something to eat before I started dancing.
Tell me about your work.
I try to have something for everyone. I have 4 children’s books that are best for 8 years old and under. It was important for me, as a black author and black self publisher to have black illustrators and African American main characters. I have a compilation of young ladies from 6 to 60 talking about getting along, keeping the peace, and working together. It has a companion journal. My most recent book is the story of my life. It is a book of short stories from mens, womens, children and ancestors perspective. It is a great conversation starter regarding mental health. I have a book of poetry for adults. It goes through the ups and downs of my life’s journey. I have a non-fiction ebook about publishing your own book and a guide for getting grants.
I founded the Bridges book club at www.bridgesbookclub.com. Each month we have a featured author that is part of the group. We have best selling authors, publish authors and aspiring authors.
This is a chill festival. I enjoyed watching those dancing. It is hard to describe. Although I have rhythm, I dare not try dancing for concern of pulling or straining something. It was good to see unity in action. People connecting around the music and dancing.
240 Parsons Ave
Columbus, OH 43205
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
I was thankful for the low 80s temperature with a slight breeze, as the closest lot was full and I had to walk from a few blocks away.
Tell me the concept behind your art car.
This is my second car. I don’t drive it every day. Greg Phelps was the inspiration for my car. In 2009, he was in Athens, Ohio. My wife saw and took pictures of his car. I thought it was kind of neat. A year and a half later, I did an art car. I have several themes; the front is my love of hockey. I did music in the back because one of my sons is into music, I like the beach; so, on the doors, I have the beach, then I randomly put freaky things on.
What’s up with it being for sale?
I am trying to downsize. I’m looking towards retirement in 5 to 7 years from now. It might be time for someone else to enjoy it whether they want to keep it the same or alter it.
Tell me about yourself and what you are doing.
I am from Pakistan. In Pakistan, I have been painting cars/trucks since I was seven (for 30 years).
Someone flies you in from Pakistan to paint their car?
Yes. I have a lot of friends in Columbus. Every year, Greg and Candy invite me to the Hot Times Festival. Every year, I paint cars in different styles.
The car owner wanted me to paint some kind of burning man (I went to the Burning Man last week).
Sidebar: I had no idea what a Burning Man was. According to the internet, it is where participants create a place of art and community. I still don’t know….
Tell me about the type of music.
We do lovers rock reggae, couples only reggae, and Old school reggae.
Are you a local band?
Where do you play?
Woodlands Tavern on Third on Columbus, and Dank House Brewing in Newark
My take: This festival has a chill vibe. Most people were admiring the art cars, or sitting/standing around talking as they listened to the performers at one of the three stages. I had a chance to catch up with several people I haven’t seen since last year. This is a festival to just come relax, catch up, and connect.
160 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
There is plenty of reasonable parking ($5 event parking) in the garage across the street from Columbus Commons (Columbus Commons Parking Garage). If you have been around Columbus for years, it is the same location as the City Center parking from back in the day.
Free food for all:
Interview with Darrah Metz
Tell me about the dogs.
These guys are trained as therapy K-9s. We have been doing this program since March, 2017. Mattis was our first. We were the first in the state. There are only 6 in the country. We built our program from scratch. We focus on victim advocacy, mental health and trauma. We work a lot with victims of crime, those suffering from mental health illnesses, and/or maybe in crisis. Also, the lingering effects of trauma. For example, victims during a trial, a court case, a counseling session, etc. Our job is to interact in the moment to reduce stress and anxiety. We are the first in the state to have 3 dogs. We can account for about 70 agencies across our country that have implemented this program. It is spreading, but when you consider that there are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies in America, still 70 is a small number. Our goal is to get the mission out. Policing isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago. We have to do better in our communities and meeting our communities half way. This is one of the ways we chose to do that at the Sheriff’s office.
How many people do you service?
I have over 500 hours of dedicated service with Mattis. I have been requested to do deployments with Mattis close to 300 times. If you multiply that by 3, we are getting up there and we are only in August. The fact that 1000 hours are being donated through our county to make our county better, our community feel safer and to make kids more resilient. That is what it is all about.
Are these your personal dogs?
They are owned by the Sheriff’s office. Mattis and Woodie were donated from breeders. Seargent Radcliff’s dog Kid, the standard poodle, is a trained therapy dog of his own. He donated her to the Sheriff’s office. Upon the dog’s retirement, Sheriff Baldwin will allow us to buy them for $1.
Surely the dogs don’t live at the Sheriff’s office.
They come home with us. They are with us 24/7. All their food, vet care, grooming and supplies are donated by community partnerships. We couldn’t do what we do without the community.
When they are off duty, are they just regular dogs?
When I go home, I take Mattis’ uniform off (his vest and his collar), my exact words are, “go be a dog.” I have another dog at home. They are thick as thieves. They play for hours. We all do a good job of keeping that balance for them.
If someone wants to donate or volunteer, how do they contact you?
Go to the Sheriff’s website. Click on programs, then therapy dog program and an email will be sent directly to our Sergeant. Here is the link: https://sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov/Programs/Therapy-Dog-Program
Sidebar: I am a dog lover! It was priceless seeing children interact with the K9 unit.
Why did you become a firefighter?
I work in the recruitment department. I am one of the first people that touch the youth and people who are looking for a career. I am a pivotal point in peoples, lives because they are trying to figure out where their passion lies. To be able to touch the youth that look like me (of color) is important to me, because I want them to realize it is an opportunity for everyone.
How long have you been serving?
It will be nine years in September that I have been a Columbus Fire Fighter, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), fire inspector, recruiter, and assisting with the board that interviews potential new hires. It changed my life to be looked at as a hero and to know the efforts I make in the community is changing someone’s life is priceless.
What is the criteria?
You need to be at least 17.5 years old at the time of application. You have to be at least 18 years at the time of hire or the conditional hire. You need to be a US citizen, not have any felonies, have a valid drivers license, and a high school diploma or GED. All requirements are listed on our website, www.columbus.gov/civilservice click on fire exams, then fire fighter.
We want you to reach out to us. If you have any general questions about what we do, our phone number is 614-645-6387. We have an opportunity where you can do ride alongs and you can view the recruits going through their daily routine. It is important to keep your nose clean, make good decisions, and know that every decision will affect your now as well as your future. We can schedule you at one of our fire houses or bring one of our trucks to your events.
What is the pay?
We will pay you about $60,00/year to attend the training academy, which is about 8 months long. Going into your 5th year, you are going to make around $90,000 /year.
We work 24 hours on and 48 hours off. That ends up being about 115 days a year. It is pretty cool to have that much time off to spend with your family and friends.
When you are scheduled to work and there isn’t a fire, what do you do?
You are supposed to be training, studying, hands on with the truck, chores around the house, community service, and public outreach.
Interview with Antonio Smith
Your name sounds familiar….
I played for OSU from 2002 to 2006. I played in the championship against Miami. Unfortunately with lost the game against Florida.
Give me an update. What are you doing now?
We (with Roy Hall) started the Driven Foundation. We have programs and services for underprivileged youth in central Ohio and around the state. We happen to be out here with one of our good partners celebrating the kids as they go back to school. It is all about giving our youth an opportunity to see ahead and preparing them to be great leaders.
What is the website?
https://staydriven.org/ This is our 10th year. We have been plugging away with many services such as food outreach, literacy, and mentorship. We have been in the position to help those who are less fortunate, provide opportunities where road blocks and challenges may exist. There is a lot to do out here and we are just trying to do our part.
How does a person volunteer?
The website, https://staydriven.org/ Also, follow us on social media, Driven Foundation on all social platforms.
Tell me about your group.
We work out of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department at Douglas Recreation Center. It is called Modeling with a Message.
It seemed like the message today was based on education. Is that the main message or do you pick a different message each time you perform?
We pick a different message each time we perform. We want to talk about breast cancer, bullying, black history, etc. Our children write their own message or they look up and recite messages to share with the community.
How does a young person or a volunteer become involved?
Show up to Douglas Recreation Center on Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm.
We work with children to build up their confidence and self esteem.
What is the age for participants?
6 to adult.
We also work with Black Nativity. I am the children’s director for that performance. We start working with the children in September.
My take: Great location! Great Price (FREE)! Great connections. Free merry-go-round rides, free soda, free water, free hot dogs, free ice cream, free information, free handouts, free music, free entertainment, etc. The volunteers were friendly. This was a family friendly event.
303 W. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Sidebar: I decided to attend on Sunday (free parking at the meters). Everyone else must have had the same idea. There wasn’t a meter available in close proximity to Genoa Park. I parked further down West Broad Street for free. Nothing happened; but going forward, I will just pay the $10 to park in the lots west of COSI (Center of Science and Industry).
What is your claim to fame?
I’m Ani Palacios. I have won 10 times at the Latino book awards. I promote Latino writers who write originally in Spanish. Not translations, original Spanish. I promote a lot of undiscovered talent. Today, I’m at Festival Latino selling my books. Check me out on Facebook or Amazon. I have different themes and genres. I move around from immigration, to mystery, to unconditional love. I love to explore our culture and put it in my books. My characters can be from Argentina, Peru, Mexico, etc. Typically, my characters travel. When I do that research, I learn a lot.
Tell me about your books.
I have been living here 2 years. Spanish is my first language. Portuguese is my second language and English is my third language. All the characters are birds. The idea is to teach values to children. For example, the first story is an ostrich who only has one leg. He dreams of going to the lagoon. A pony helps him. My books are bilingual (Spanish/English). My goal is to reach a child who speaks English because they are born here whose parents speak Spanish. Parents can help the children read in Spanish and they then can read in English.
Sidebar: I didn’t know that the spelling of names may be different in different languages. Lorena told me she couldn’t tell me how to spell her name in English. She had the English spelling of her name on her business card. Lorena apologized for her English not being so good. I had no problem understanding what she was saying. English, as her third language, is much better than my version of Spanish after taking 2 years of Spanish in high school many moons ago.
Tell me about Dress for Success.
Dress for Success Columbus is a non-profit organization that provides young ladies and women with attire and services for work readiness (getting back into the workforce or starting off in the work force). We go as young as high school. We are trying to get the high school girls ready for their internships and their first jobs. We have women to women networking, professional and women’s group, and weekly workshops on Fridays on different topics. Different organizations come in. The career center is open for clients. We have computers, tutorials, mock interviews, and resume’ services. You can become a client by starting off with the suiting appointment. If you are looking for a job, we provide interview attire, head to toe. Once you get your job, you come back in for a full week’s wardrobe, head to toe.
We have volunteer opportunities and we rely heavily on donors.
What if you are plus size and already have a job, can you come in and get some clothes?
Absolutely. Lane Bryant is one of our biggest sponsors and partners.
I was joking. I was trying to determine if receiving clothing is need based.
There are no income guidelines. Some women need a wardrobe enhancement. Sometimes full time pay doesn’t stretch to wardrobe enhancement. We are here to provide services for women that are in need.
Where are you located?
We are located at the corner of Fifth and High at 1204 N, High Street. Parking is a little tough due to construction. There are three parking spots reserved in the back of the building.
We have two major fundraisers. The one that is coming up is Beyond the Suit luncheon, September 27. Tickets are available now. Ticket sales are through the website, www.dfscmh.org. 100% of the proceeds stay with Dress for Success. If you want to volunteer, you can fill out an application and there is an orientation that you have to complete.
I did the entire interview before someone pointed at the poster. I interviewed a Mifflin High School Alumni who I had the pleasure of coaching basketball for one year. It is great to see a Mifflin graduate pursuing their purpose and helping others.
Why are you out here doing what you are doing?
I was hired by Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) to make balloon animals for all of the cool kids.
What the what. If you are not a cool kid are you saying you can’t get a balloon?
They are all cool kids.
Interview with Edison Diaz.
You look like you are living it up. Tell me what you do and how long you have been doing it and why you do it.
We have been doing this for 24 years. The first time here was back in 1995. The salsa group that started this was Tito Puente and Selia Cruz. Everybody is a big family. People come from all over Ohio and some people come from Philadelphia. We play the congas until they kick us out. There are two police officers who always take care of us and at the end, they play the congas with us. This is all about family. Even though I might not see someone the entire year, it is 100 % that I will see them here at the Latino Festival. It is all about having fun, being with the community, drinking, eating, playing, etc.
Are you primarily from one place or all Latinos?
All Latinos. We have people from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Cuba, etc. Even Asian people come over here and have fun. We welcome everyone. If you don’t know anything about our culture, come., and we will educate you. People fear what they don’t understand. Ask us. All Latino people are not drug dealers. All Latino people are not illegal immigrants. We are a group of people who love people. We may be loud, but we are positive and love having fun.
Interview with Waleska Dejesus
I save the place. Everybody knows where to come to have fun and be with their family. We welcome new people with open arms. They have fun and then they become part of the family.
Sidebar: This group was enjoying themselves! I thought they might be a paid group to add percussion to the performers. I loved their vibe. Once in the section, you can feel the connection.
Interview with Elaina Hernandez.
Tell me about your group.
We do Mexican folkloric dancing. We are from Toledo Ohio. Mexico is just like the United States. It is made up of 31 states and one federal district. Each state has its own style of music, costume, and dancing. We did dances from 4 different states today, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Colima, and Jalisco.
We are a not for profit youth group. All of our classes are free to anyone who wants to learn how to dance. Our classes are held in Toledo, Ohio. We dance all around Ohio. We recently went to Walt Disney World. We have danced in Chicago, California, and West Virginia. We dance different places showing people the beauty and charm of Mexico.
My take: This festival was well attended. It was crowded. People were in the shade, walking by the vendors, sitting and listening to the music, dancing, etc. Thus far, this has been the highest attendance that I have viewed at Genoa Park on a Sunday or even Saturday. It appeared that everyone was in chill mode. People were supporting the festival, not only with their presence, but with the money, buying food, drinks, etc… I had a blast.
1520 Davidson Dr,
Reynoldsburg, OH 4306
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Sidebar: Don’t make the mistake I did. Enter the park from Livingston Avenue instead of Main Street. The parking closest to Main St. was full. There was ample grass or paved parking near the Livingston Ave. entrance. The price was right for parking, free.
This event was free, but pop (soda), water and Gatorade were $2. Most beer, wine, and the Bloody Mary bar were $6. The wrist bands to ride the rides were $20. Tickets were $1 each or 24 tickets for $20. Each ride on the average required 3 to 5 tickets. A wrist band or ticket was required to ride the rides.
Sidebar: This is how the website (reytomatoefest.com) describes the tomato war: “One open round of up to 150 goggle wearing participants will divide and face off in a battle where there are no losers. Participants will toss rotten tomatoes til there are no more”. I envisioned tomatoes swarming with flies and mold filled being smashed in someone’s face from about a foot away. Each team was separated by several feet. This seemed to be a safe and fun activity.
(Interview with Steven Hicks) Why did you participate in the Tomato War?
We are excited about the life they are breathing into the Tomato Festival. A lot of people are excited about the festival this year. We thought we would participate because it would be a heck of a lot of fun. We get to throw tomatoes at each other and have a big food fight. I hope this is a tradition we can do every year and have a lot of fun doing it.
Anything you would like to add (Grace Hicks)?
I like getting dirty, so this was pretty fun.
Why did everyone want to hit you or get you even before the Tomato War began.
I have been part of the community for 25 years. I officiate 5 different sports. I do a lot for the city of Reynoldsburg. Every sport they have, I do. A lot of the parents and kids know me. The one time they can get me back is right now.
They really didn’t get you back because you look clean.
Trained skill. You got to dodge and weave.
This is the first Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival in a while. How long was it gone?
It has been gone for about 2 years. This is the first year it’s been back. The city of Reynoldsburg is running it. It is a little more organized. It’s very well put together. We are looking forward to the future.
Why are you dressed this way?
I helped with the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival junior pageant. I had the opportunity to crown the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival junior pageant contestants.
Tell me about what you are wearing.
I was just crowned Today’s International Woman’s Mrs 2019 this past Saturday. In Greenville, SC.
Did you come all the way from Greenville?
I am from Reynoldsburg, OH and I competed in Greenville.
Tell me about the process.
I automatically advanced from Ohio to the national and international pageant. I had the opportunity to compete and I won.
What was your talent?
It was not about talent, but my platform. My platform is called faith of a poppy seed which is premature awareness. My daughter was born 11 weeks early. She weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces at 29 weeks. I told myself and I told God, if you get us through this, I am going to dedicate my life to premature awareness. Here we are.
Interview with Senhet Sefe
You are doing what and representing what?
This booth is for Stuco which is our student council at Reynoldsburg High School. We are bringing awareness to the events that we are having this year and to have a little fun, we have Jenga for everyone to play.
What is Jenga?
It is a game where you stack up the blocks and you pull out blocks one by one and put them on top. Whoever makes it fall, loses.
What are the events that you are highlighting?
The homecoming parade, homecoming game, homecoming dance, the winter carnival in December, the Sadie Hawkins Dance, and the prom.
How does a person get on the student council?
At the beginning of the year, a person can join. There is an orientation where you sign up for the committees. For example special Olympics, or game day committees for tail gate, to help organize a fund raiser, etc. If you don’t participate, you are off.
Can a person be an F student and serve on the student council?
Sidebar: Things have changed!
Not your ordinary kickball games:
Interview with Shalom
Why did you participate in kick ball?
The mission of Collision Church is to get out in the community and to reach the unchurched who need some love. What better way for us to get out into the community than to be in the community? What better way than kickball. Even though we are not the best at the game, we wanted to come out and show people that church folks are not stuck up, can get dirty, have fun, and love life too.
Tell me about your church.
Service time is 11:00am on Sundays. The service is contemporary. It is not odd for our pastor to wear jeans and a tee shirt preaching. Sometimes shorts and a tee shirt. We have a café where we offer specialized coffee drinks, iced lattes, regular coffee, expresso drinks, etc. The café starts at 10:15 am until 10:45 am. Come out, have some fun and have some good coffee.
Any specific outreach?
We are here at the Tomato Festival. We have done some events in JFK Park. We are still looking for opportunities to get out and serve in the community.
You made a great play at first base. What is your background?
I started attending the Simple Church about two years ago. I love it. We are a family, so it makes it fun to come out and play. This is one of our grow groups. It is an opportunity to get to know one another and be athletic.
I played college soccer at Ohio Dominican University, so that is where I get my catching from. The stretching is just a gift from God.
Does your church have a kickball team?
We are going to play in the city of Reynoldsburg’s league. This is our team that we are playing with.
Why did you participate?
We put this together at the last minute. This is a dream run. Our team has good teamwork. We are going hard trying to win. Team unity, hang out, and have fun.
Tell me about your church.
We are so good that we have out of towners coming in. Deon Fraiser is the pastor and a great guy. Fun to listen to. Church is fun.
My take: The Tomato War and kick ball are “special sauce” activities. I think activities of this type bring people together to connect on a more meaningful level. If I didn’t have my camera gear, I would have participated in both activities.