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.
160 Easton Town Center
Columbus, OH 43219
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Sidebar: There was plenty of close free parking and the creature comforts of Easton, if you want a break (shopping, food, a bathroom and flushes, etc.). This is an automatic benefit. Children and superheroes seemed to be everywhere.
Sidebar: I watched the young ladies faces brighten up when given the opportunity to pose and have a picture taken. This was a great idea!
Sidebar: There was only one balloon artist. She earned her keep. The line was consistently upwards of 40 children while I was at the event.
Sidebar: The make your own mask and cape, in my opinion, are the main special sauces of this event. They allow all children to feel special and a part of the event whether their parents provided a purchased costume or not.
Sidebar: Seeing the children’s faces brighten up when they interacted and took pictures with their favorite superheroes was worth the price of admission. Wait, it was free. Well, it was invaluable.
Sidebar: This lady is brave! Excited, busy, children were everywhere. Some were paying attention, most were not. Many were following instructions and some were not. The old lady in me said a prayer that a child didn’t get excited and try to hug the tall superhero and both the superhero and the child end up on the pavement.
My take: This is a fun free activity for young children and even the young at heart. I saw a couple of adults wait in line to have their picture taken with their favorite superhero.
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.
Ohio State Fair
717 E 17th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43211
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
For as long as I can remember, I have attended the Ohio State Fair. My father took me to the fair for the first time when I was two years old. I really don’t remember going; but, my mother told me that I came home with vanilla ice cream all over my face and my clothes. The first memory I have of attending the fair is when I went with my cousins to spend the day at the fair. I remember budgeting my money to play a few games, as well as ride the bumper cars, and go in the fun house. Since that time, I have gone to the fair to see concerts, to eat, to enjoy the attractions, to ride a few rides, etc. We have made attending the fair a family tradition for several years.
Each year we park for $5 in the lots off the 17th Avenue exit off interstate 71.
Sidebar: I don’t think I have ever paid full price for the fair admission. We usually attend on AAA day. This year, the admission was $4 per person once we showed our valid AAA card. Discounted tickets can also be purchased at Kroger.
Many attend the fair for the rides:
Sidebar: My days of riding the rides are about over. If I’m tired and the ride is going to get me to my car faster, then sign me up. Otherwise, I’m going to pass.
For us, this year, it was all about the performances:
Each year, my mother insists that we attend the All Ohio State Choir performance at the Martin Janis Senior Citizen Center. According to https://ohiostatefair.com/band-choir/ the choir has 200 members. I enjoyed the melodious sound of the choir and the comfortable air-conditioned seating. The musical selections were accompanied by students playing the piano. Everyone did an excellent job.
The pig races are a featured attraction every year. Even though it is about the same each year, this race is always well attended. Since we have already seen the pig races, we still enjoy seeing a few minutes of it on the way to the featured show.
The Human Cannonball Crusaders show was worth the price of admission!
Were you ever afraid of heights? How did you get into this?
I was never afraid of heights. I saw an amateur circus in my home town when I was thirteen years old. I saw the high wire act and decided I wanted to do that. The next year I was in the high wire act.
Have you done it consistently since that time?
I have taken a few breaks. I worked construction. That is what I still do in my off time. These are the two jobs I have done since I graduated high school and I still do them.
How high was the high wire?
Did you have a net?
No net and no safety devices.
Tell me about the act.
I have been a human canon ball for twenty two years. I have been shot about 7,000 times. I just did the tv show “America’s Got Talent”, where I lit myself on fire and was shot from a cross bow.
How did you get into this?
I live in Peru, IN and they have an amateur circus for kids. I did that every year since I was eight years old. When I graduated from high school, I went professional. I did flying trapeze for sixteen years. After that, I decided to build a canon and have been doing that ever since.
Did you build this canon?
Yes. I have built seven canons. Now, I have three canons and a cross bow.
Do you have some unique George Jetson fuel?
Yeah, I keep it a secret, since I design and build them. I don’t reveal how it works. I am self taught. I designed it, build it, then taught myself how to fly out of it.
The “Flippin’- The Aerial and Acrobatic Spectacular” show was a new attraction at the Fair. It was worth the price of admission! It was fantastic!
According to https://ohiostatefair.com/band-choir/, the band has been around since 1963. (That’s a long time!) We always enjoy the music; but, we seek out the band primarily to see the drum major. My mom taught baton lessons as a teen ager at the Neighborhood house for $.50 per student. I won’t tell her age; but, it was SEVERAL DECADES ago.
Sidebar: I loved the girl in the back performing! Give her a couple of years she just might be able to take her show on the road.
Sidebar: I was walking by the Gazebo and saw Drew Murry shoving this balloon in his mouth. Then he talked after he appeared to swallow it. Due to a time constraint, I wasn’t able to see him pull it back, but he said he was going to do that later. This falls into the category of how did he do that?
Other things to see:
My TakeThere is so much to see at the Ohio State Fair. There is no way you can see everything the fair has to offer in one day. The Ohio State Fair is what you make it. It is a great opportunity to start and continue a family/friend tradition. Your fair experience could be completely different than my fair experience. But, at the end of the day, the memories are still priceless.
Rocket Fizz (soda pop and candy shop)
944 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43201
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Tell me about the store and your claim to fame.
The store is a small francise out of Camarillo, California. I helped open this one with my buddy from high school and his wife (Colin and Lyndsay Maher). We opened about four and a half years ago and we have been a staple of the Short North ever since.
What are your best sellers?
Our Harry Potter looking butter beer and candy cigarettes.
What is the vibe of the store?
We have over 500 different types of soda at any one time and upwards of a few thousand different candies. We have about 10,000 items that we can order. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I believe the floors are about a hundred years old. People comment about the charm of the “creaky” old floors. The old hardware store look and feel. Everything is for sale, the signs, the posters, the masks, etc.
Sidebar: The music is piped outside. The music is popular and familiar from different eras. For example, “Ain’t too proud to beg” by the Temptations and “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson. This helps to stir up memories of older times.
Are there any flavors that were discontinued?
Recently, black jack and clove just came back. My dad told me that they used to put black jack on their front teeth so it looked like they didn’t have front teeth from a distance.
Clove was originally sold at the pharmacy as a stomach soother. It also was used by smokers to mask the smell.
Sidebar: According to oldtimecandy.com, clove was used to cover the smell of alcohol during prohibition. According to oldtimecandy.com. black jack was the first flavored gum in America (1884).
For research sake, I tasted both gums. The clove had a medicinal taste. I’m not a fan of the licorice flavor, so my assessment of black jack wouldn’t be fair. At first, the licorice taste was overwhelming, but after a while the flavor was almost enjoyable. Both flavors tasted better the longer they were in my mouth.
When we first opened, people were pouring in because co-founder/President Rob Powells went on the TV show, “Undercover Boss”.
My take: I LOVE THE VIBE OF THE STORE. This is a stretch with the vibrant colors but it reminds me of the store set of the Andy Griffith show (if the Andy Griffith show was in color). It is a great place to go to shoot the breeze, go down memory lane, and make new memories.