DeaFestival - Kentucky 2006 Overview

As I take time to reflect on DeaFestival 2006 and consider the comments I received and those passed on to me by my staff, performers and volunteers I know that the thousands of hours worked to produce DeaFestival Kentucky 2006 were worth the effort! In case you weren't present at the Kentucky Center or Belvedere, let me recap some of the events. If you were there, perhaps you will recognize the same scenarios or maybe it was you who made a comment. Let's take a tour .....

On July 1, 2006, let's transport through the main doors of the Kentucky Center in Louisville, KY. As you entered, you may have seen the horse from DeaFestival 2004 which still stands outside in the corner of the front steps. Some of the artists that participated in designing that artwork were at DeaFestival 2006, and some new artists attended this year for the first time. As you moved inside the Kentucky Center you saw the Visual Artists Venue where artists set up their work ranging from oil and water paintings, mixed media, stained glass, woodworking, sculptures, masks, batik, tie-dye, jewelry, metal work and graphic design. The smaller number of artists this year did not deter from the quality of art presented by those who participated.

Moving through the lobby you experienced technology at work as deaf access stations demonstrated videoconferencing, a means of talking through computers that allows deaf and hard of hearing individual's equal access to communication in American Sign Language and captions. In the glassed in enclosure of the lobby corner, our major sponsors (Hamilton, T-Mobile and BellSouth) demonstrated and sold communications equipment and provided information.

Exiting the lobby doors you moved onto the Belvedere and were transported into a mythical land of snow and imagination as you walked through the wardrobe ...and into the Land of Narnia, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Inside the castle you found a Faun, the Ice Queen, Mr. Beaver, Aslan the Lion and four curious children (Edmund, Peter, Lucy and Susan) exploring a new land of imagination. The performers led participants and even the Governor, through stories stressing education and diversity, as well as playing games outside which encouraged reading skills and included a diversity puzzle.

During Opening Ceremonies, the Honorable Governor Ernie Fletcher "signed" his welcome to the crowd and became the first Governor to attend DeaFestival Kentucky, proclaiming July 1st as the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Day. He and other dignitaries such as Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Kelly, Tommy Clark from the Louisville Mayor's Office and Sally Hamilton representing Secretary Virginia G. Fox of the Education Cabinet made July 1st a special day for the 8,000 to 10,000 people that attended. Hamilton Relay presented a beautifully commissioned life sized sculpture of a professional woman entitled "That", a hand gesture in American Sign Language that describes something that is so perfect there is no other translation for the meaning. "THAT's what I'm talking about" is Hamilton Relay's motto and represents what communication is truly about for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

As you left the Children's tent you might have stopped to chat with new and old friends at the deaf tent, where attendees gathered to eat, drink and catch up on each others' lives. Each time I passed this tent it was FULL of people deep in conversation. DeaFestival really is a reunion of sorts for our community! In fact, I'm not sure these people come to see the performances... but rather come to visit and talk with one another. Looking down the Belvedere you may have seen tents, each containing craft artists, vendors and exhibitors with a wide range of goods for sale and valuable information to distribute. Even the heat of the day did not deter the crowds from browsing and purchasing something to take home.

As you slipped back inside to the cool Kentucky Center lobby and climbed the stairs to the Bomhart Theatre, you may have felt the Wild Zappers performing on the SpotLights stage! You may have discussed some of the performances you saw earlier in the day. Perhaps you felt the vibes of the National Deaf Dance Theater, or laughed with Pinky Aiello as she showed us what video relay interpreting was all about. Perhaps you felt a connection to Sherry Hicks and her CODA upbringing and the humor it entails or saw "Mabel" at her best! Perhaps you saw Levi and Clay Anderson (twins) as they described interpreting from their mother's womb. Or maybe you felt the "spirits" as James Gillies told deaf ghost stories dressed in traditional Scottish attire. Maybe you saw the Deaf Professional performance, presented by Hamilton Relay, called .....Dare to Dream...I Wanna Be! If so, you must have felt the goose bumps as each of the youth looked into the eyes of their role model and said...I CAN do that??.... I can be a pilot, a teacher, a professional athlete, an artitect? I can really be a doctor, a lawyer, a veterinarian, an artist or a professional dancer!? I can dream that dream and succeed? I can do whatever I want to do? YES YOU CAN was the answer! With hard work and encouragement you CAN DO ANYTHING! One student told me, "I've never even met a deaf adult before today. I didn't know there were grownups like me and I never dreamed someone deaf could become a doctor! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet these people at DeaFestival. Now I can go home and tell my parents I CAN be a doctor, I MET ONE at DeaFestival!" We received a lot of positive feedback from that segment, including comments from the professionals themselves who felt like DeaFestival KY truly does make a difference in peoples lives! That is NICE to know and that is WHY we continue to produce DeaFestival-Kentucky!

Regardless of what you saw, each event was filled with laughter, music and most of all love of performance! No matter what your perspective, if you attended you couldn't help becoming part of DeaFestival 2006 and we hope you felt the impact the festival has on the entire community!!! Please check, the web site to see if your thoughts were captured. If not, please contact us and give us your feedback. And mark your calendars now for DeaFestival 2008 which will be held on August 30th at the Kentucky Center in Louisville.

DeaFestival-Kentucky 2006 is done.... But the memories are still with us ALL

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