35th Ole Brook Festival set for weekend

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 28, 2009

Children’s areas revamped

The 35th annual Ole Brook Festival has been organized bigger andbetter than ever before, and the ramped-up effort to make this thebest festival yet has been extended especially to one importantgroup – children.

The festival’s children’s area has been expanded and stockedwith new attractions this year, and will feature all new exhibitsand activities. Jeff Doremus, chairman of the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce’s Festival Committee, said improving thechildren’s area was the next logical step for a successful andgrowing event like the Ole Brook Festival.

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“Obviously, we have a lot of the shopping and things for mom anddad, but the kids need some fun things, too,” he said. “We wantedto give them more opportunities to have fun and enjoy the festival.Since we are Mississippi’s premiere family festival, we want theentire family to have fun, and this was an area we felt like wecould do a little more in.”

The 35th Annual Ole Brook Festival will be held Friday night andthroughout the day Saturday. To improve the children’s area, thechamber has called mainly on two local organizations that arepartnering together to take care of children of all ages.

One of the main attractions in the children’s area will be amyriad of activities hosted by the Mississippi School of the Arts,which is taking a more active role inthe community under newdirector Suzanna Hirsch. Approximately 50 MSA students will hostactivities, display art and hold performances at the festival,mostly between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.

“I’m a big proponent of community involvement on all levels. Ithink the youth need to know who’s supporting their school; theyneed to be able to showcase their talent and the community needs tosee them,” Hirsch said. “Any opportunity we have to work in thecommunity we’ll take advantage of.”

One of the main attractions MSA will present at the festivalwill be the Amazing Moving Museum, in which a group of around 30students from the school’s dance department will perform dances,form themselves into shape and “sculpt” each other. Childrenattending the festival will be invited to participate in themuseum, Hirsch said.

MSA’s visual arts students will also host a printmakingworkshop, in which students and attending children will carve outfoam shapes and transform them into art prints. Children will beallowed to take their prints with them.

“They will have their own little piece of artwork,” Hirschsaid.

Students from the school’s theatre department will branch outall over the festival and hold street performances, recreatingmovie genres and pantomiming, Hirsch said. Additionally, manystudents from the school’s vocal department are planning to competein the festival’s talent show, which runs throughout the daySaturday.

All of MSA’s activities at the festival will be free, Hirschsaid.

“All of our departments are going to be involved in somecapacity, and our students from campus are going to come up to thefestival and participate as well,” she said. “Hopefully, everyonewill see that this community is the reason this school exists. Thestudents want to be involved and accepted in this community, and Ihope this will start to build relationships with local businessesand the families in our community. Building relationships is themain thing I want to see happen, and this won’t be the lasttime.”

Festival organizers are delighted to see MSA participating inthe festival. Chamber of commerce programs director Kay Burton saidthe school’s participation would mark the first time MSA hasstepped out into the community on such a large scale.

“It brings the community and the arts school together – it justhelps get more exposure about the school and what they’re doing,”she said. “It’s also bringing major workshops for kids that wedidn’t have to offer. I think it just adds a little moreprofessionalism in the arts to our festival, and for families, itgives them a great opportunity to learn what MSA can maybe do fortheir kids one day.”

Most of MSA’s exhibits and performances will be geared towardolder children, but the school’s next-tent-neighbor will be on handto take care of the younger children. The Junior Auxiliary ofBrookhaven will feature a host of activities geared toward itstheme, Healthy Children, Healthy Futures, from 10 a.m. to 2p.m.

“You will get some really wholesome, good things going on in ourtent,” said JA President Emily Henderson. “JA’s overall mission isto serve the children of Lincoln County, and of course we want ourtent to be full of activities that are healthy and engaging tochildren.”

JA’s first activity will be The Organwise Guys, a healthyeating-themed puppet show performed by the Lincoln County ExtensionOffice’s Natasha Haynes. That presentation will be followed by theauxiliary’s EARS Committee, which works to help children learn toread. The EARS Committee will present full-costumed figures ofWinnie the Pooh and Tigger, who will be available for photos andautographs.

Beginning at 11 a.m., gymnasts and cheerleaders associated withBrookhaven’s Gym of Dreams will display their limber skills. Aftera lunch break, Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Laura Lee Lewiswill be on hand to speak about her platform, H.E.R.O – Honor ExcelReach Overcome, a mentoring program designed to help elementary andmiddle school children make good choices.

After Lewis, the high-flying skills of Master Steve Kincade ofthe Academy of Korean Martial Arts will be on display, and a drugawareness program presented by the Brookhaven Police Department isscheduled to close out JA’s programs.

The JA’s programs are also being held for free.