DeaFestival - Kentucky 2002 was a huge success, thanks in large part to the sponsors, performers, visual artists, volunteers, and hard working staff who put in much time and effort to make sure everyone enjoyed a fun filled day of entertainment. The fifth DeaFestival - Kentucky was the biggest and best to date.
DeaFestival - Kentucky 2002 kicked off June 28 with the Visual Artists' Buyers' Night, a new addition designed to provide visual artists more opportunities to market their art. This specific arena allowed performing artists, visual artists, and the general public a "sneak preview" of the caliber of art represented, as well as creating an environment where the artists could be taken seriously as vendors of their art; professionals, not hobbyists.
June 29, 2002 dawned bright and warm; the rain that had plagued Kentucky that week cleared, setting the stage for the beautiful backdrop of the Kentucky Horse Park to welcome the roughly 10,000 festival-goers. As the mist from the lake cleared, it was truly inspiring to see the tents come alive amid the horses roaming in their pastures. Each component of DeaFestival was enjoyed by all who attended.
The SpotLights stage welcomed renowned performers such as Phyllis Frelich, the Wild Zappers, Terrylene, and the all-deaf band Beethoven's Nightmare. The 70's theme led us to explore the "free"ness of that decade. Inspired by the Native American hoop dances of Burton Bird, the crowd was immeasurably moved by Ed Chevy's interpretation of the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the U.S.A." No one will ever forget the vivid images he portrayed. In addition, KCDHH's own Anita Dowd made her performing debut, singing (yes, singing) songs from the 70's, wonderfully interpreted by Virginia Moore, taking a mini break from her duties as DeaFestival Coordinator.
Phyllis Frelich also enjoyed a huge influence on Kentucky's finest and brightest high schoolers. In a special performance, students from the Governor's School for the Arts and the Governor's Scholar's Program learned of the trials and triumphs of a deaf actress working in Hollywood.
The Culture and Traditions stage, designed to educate hearing and deaf alike about deaf culture and sign language, explored everything from Walter Kelley and Melanie McKay- Cody's discussions of Native American sign language to Garland Best's depiction of the history of deaf Kentuckians.
The Children's Program, Hands Across the World, offered a program focusing on one agenda for the first time. Peter Cook and Todd Czubek hosted the Harry Potter-themed tent, taking children and adults alike on a wonderful journey into the parallel worlds of Harry Potter and Deaf Culture. The two created such a real environment of Wizard School in which children of all ages participated, including "Spells" and "Potions" class, exploring the subtleness of expression in sign language, and a rousing game of Quidditch (a fictional wizard game similar to soccer and basketball on broomsticks), that everyone hated to see it end. Kids went home in their school capes, some refusing to take them off until bedtime.
The Visual Artists' Studio continued from the night before, with the artists cooperating to create a "Horse of a Different Color," a fiberglass horse painted by each of the artists in attendance. Artists from Panama and India sat alongside artisans from Kentucky and Texas displaying their many varied works. This horse also traveled to NAD, where more artists from around the nation and globe added their own touches.
Without sponsors such as Hamilton Relay, Sprint Relay, BellSouth, Deaf Wireless, Eastern Kentucky University/Vocation Rehabilitation/Center on Deafness, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Kentucky SHIP, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Center For Accessible Living, and Gallaudet University, along with many other in-kind donations, this event would never have happened, nor would it have remained a free festival.
As DeaFestival - Kentucky 2002 came to a rousing close with Beethoven's Nightmare and the Wild Zappers, the Tour de DeaFestival kicked into gear. DeaFestival - Kentucky went on the road, partnering with NAD to provide, for the first time, a Cultural Extravaganza for the Conference.
The festival that started with a dream continues with a vision, as DeaFestival - Kentucky gears up for its next biennial event in 2004, to be held in Louisville, KY at the Kentucky Center on September 5th. Memories from DeaFestival - Kentucky 2002 will continue to entertain us until then.