The Eastburg Community Alliance presented their 10th Annual American Freedom Festival to Celebrate the Signing of the Declaration of Independence on Monday July 4th in Dansbury Park which is located in East Stroudsburg, PA. The warm, summer day filled the park with a multitude of celebrants eager to partake of the day’s festivities. The festival afforded members of the East Stroudsburg and surrounding communities an opportunity to re-established the friendships they’ve encountered throughout the years as well as creating new ones with those who shared the enjoyment the day provided. They were met with vendors selling food, art, and other items that has become associated with festival during the past decade along with some great music performed throughout the day as they eagerly anticipated the fireworks display.
As indicated earlier, there was a lot going on and my visits to the many vendors I have come to know and the conversations I had with friends I have not seen since the 9th annual festival along with the new friends I made continues to touch my thoughts with great fondness and will so for quite some time. These include Maria Ferris, John and Natalie Kahwaty, Suzzanne McCool, Kathy Fisher of Crunch Radio, and members of The Pocono Photo Club, various political and civic groups. It was great to see them all and share in the wonders of the day.
However, it was the incredible music that played throughout the day that made the festival something I’ll continue to place high on the list of events I will attend in 2012 and (if the Aztecs are wrong) beyond. The lineup included solo performances of singer/songwriters whose melodies and talents provided a soft, calming voice to the excited din of the excited gathering reminding them one of the benefits of attending the festival was to cease their hurried lives for a moment or two in order to take a well needed breath. The lineup also included some truly kick ass rock and hip hop whose energies ignited the fireworks within each listener long before the sun moved to nether regions of the Earth far enough so the pyrotechnic display could be enjoyed later in the evening.
The performances presented on the main stage were Emceed by Russ (Rusty Nail) Fisher and included music by a variety of performers which included winners of The Pocono Community Theater’s Annual “Pocono’s Got Talent” competition which is the local equivalent of the “America Got Talent” television talent show. They included the hip hop group called, “Redd and the Hitman” (aka Double O) who received the “Poconos Got Talent” Audience Choice Award and a rock band called, “Forbidden Dreams” who won the “Poconos Got Talent” Competition.
The performance given by Redd and the Hitman (aka Double O) was almost a festival in and of itself. The party like atmosphere taking place onstage was contagious as seen by the reaction of the ecstatic audience that swayed and moved in synchronization with every riff. The performance also had an acrobatic quality to it as members of the audience came onstage only to do back flips into the encouraging crowd. Those performing in the group were Daisean (aka Redd), Dontriese (aka Hitman), Xavier (aka Handz), Denzel (aka Boog) and Kelvin (aka Goof).
The music performed by Forbidden Dreams were of an entirely different music genre but that only served to reflect the wide variety of entertaining styles the festival had to offer while maintaining a great deal of quality and energy in the performances themselves. Forbidden Dreams rocked the festival with its renditions of heavy metal, punk, and classic rock tunes utilizing their youthful vigor (the oldest member is 18 years old while the remaining members are 15 and 16) to storm the crowd with their finely tuned stage presence. The performance given by the lead singer Dan Perry (the 18 year old - aka "Dan the Magic Man") appeared to be a mixture of a young Roger Daltrey of the Who, Jim Morrison of the Doors, and Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and could be favorably compared to them all. Yet, it was not by his talents alone did the band perform as incredibly as they did. Max Sibum lent his considerable talents as the band’s Lead Guitar as did Timmy Colon on Rhythm Guitar, Austin Coslar on Drums, and Christopher Keahey on Bass.
As mentioned earlier, The Festival Stage was filled with a variety of musical styles. These included the solo and duo performances by Rick Delgado, The Business Fairy (who also performed later with Eric J. Becker), and Jesus Lopez (who is an American Idol and x Factor finalist) along with The Kevin Brennan Band. Yet, there were other happenings going on upon and around the stage besides all things musical. There was magic performed by Mark Mysterio who also moved among the crowd mystifying those he encountered with his deft slight of hand. There were also watermelon eating and dance contests which delighted the crowd as well as the participants.
As the hues among the clouds began to display their farewells to the sun, the band titled, “Dewey Decimal and the System” began their welcomed assault on the auditory senses which not only delighted them with their songs but enhanced them by providing them fodder from which memories of their performance will be nurtured for some time to come. Their music contains a blend of sounds they refer to as “boot stompin, vag slappin' strip club music, and just a rundown old hillbilly” music that allows them to take their audiences by their collars (even if they’re wearing tee shirts) and slap them silly until they say “Please sir. May I have another?” The band consisting of Ted Sadiwnyk on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Eric Hantson on Keyboard, Guitar, and Vocals, Brian Taddeo on Bass, and Caleb Estey on Drums are most eager to comply and I loved it more than even the Marquis de Sade would have. Yee haw.
As Dewey Decimal and the System began leaving the stage to make way for the much anticipated fireworks display, Executive Director and Downtown Manager at Eastburg Community Alliance Cheryl Lyn Hayne took the stage to thank all who made the festival an event to be embedded with the memory of every attendee for years to come and to select this year’s winner of the 50/50 raffle which amounted to $350. Among those she thanked were the volunteers who set up and adorned the booths which were manned throughout the day as attendees asked questions about the festival, the Eastburg Community Alliance, and anything that came to mind. I served as one of these volunteers and my experience in helping put together some tents along with providing ride tickets and wrist bands to those families who visited that area of the festival was an extremely enjoyable one. I would totally recommend serving as a volunteer to anyone who would like to help out during the 2012 festival as it’s a lot of fun.
Soon, the moment came that everyone was waiting for. As it would be assumed, there was a patriotic flavor to the festival due to it being a celebration of our country’s conception when it officially declared its independence from The British Empire. It was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776 more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War and was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson. The birth of The United States has since been celebrated on the date the document’s wording was approved by congress although it was actually signed about a month later on August 2nd. Regardless to the actual dates it was validated, the document remains unique as it’s the first to recognize the right of individuals to live their life to the fullest of their capacity to live them without interference from others. These concepts guided the framers of the constitution which established the United States as a country ruled by its laws established by its citizenry and not by those whom they selected to administer them.
Kenneth Scharlatt performed some final songs in tribute to the country. They were greeted with a great sense of solemn respect as each member of the audience reflected upon the freedoms that has become seemingly commonplace in our lives yet need our perseverance of them daily to have any meaningful effect. There were much mention of how those in the military and their endeavors should be supported to maintain our inherent freedoms, but I respectfully disagree. These freedom are self-evident truths endowed by a Divine Creator and not by a military who obeys unlawful orders by betraying their oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” by engaging in undeclared wars that violates and weakens the US Constitution. This is an article for another time, but the implication the love of one’s country depends upon the support of it citizenry to such an affront to our ability to determine where we send our fellow citizens to kill and die disturbs me.
Anyways, the heartfelt performance given by Kenneth Scharlatt was followed by a wonderful fireworks display which pleased the crowd. It was a great end to a great day. It was good to see my friends and to meet so many good people who became my new friends. You’ll find more photographs I took throughout the day in the American Freedom Festival 2011 Gallery at www.facebook.com/forwardian.dude.
The Eastburg Community Alliance (ECA) was formed over 30 years ago by local leaders and business owners with the desire to provide numerous community events in order to bring residents and visitors together to enjoy and market the downtown area. The next event scheduled to take place is the Dansbury Depot Re-Dedication and OctoberFest to be held October 15th featuring a celebration at the station for train lovers from all over the country with activities, food, and entertainment through the day. Please Explore The Eastburg Community Alliance website at www.eastburgalliance.com for more information about the organization and all they have to offer.