Despite the sweltering weather, there was still a decent turnout for the 5th Annual Port Chester Fest on Saturday.
is designed to promote a positive image of the village and unite the diverse community through art, music and family activities. Click here to check out a photo gallery from Port Chester Fest.
"It’s well attended and I’m hoping people can tolerate the heat. It’s a wonderful event," said Mayor Dennis Pila. “It’s a great day for the community to get together and unite.”
Last year, more than 2,500 people attended Port Chester Fest. With a high of 89 degrees and humidity at 55 percent, , of , said it wasn’t likely that they’d reach last year’s number “because it’s just so hot.”
“A lot of people were talking about it in the days and weeks leading up to it, so I expected a pretty good crowd but people were just huddling in the shade and today. It’s unfortunate for us, but at least it’s not raining,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get to 2,500. Everybody’s having a great time though.”
There were musicians from around the world, creative art workshops, more than 25 informative community resource vendors and the fest was combined with the for the first time.
Lipka added that combining the fest with the health fair led to a change in location. Port Chester Fest has been on the Marina parking lot for the past four years so the biggest change was the location.
“(We had to make) sure that everyone knew where it was and that it was the same event,” said Lipka. “The Port Chester Fest has grown every year so we wanted everyone to have the same feeling of (how big it was).”
“(Combining the two) raises the profile of both. I like the location of the health center in this town. It’s right in the middle of (Port Chester),” said Craig Kennedy, of the National Association of Community Health Centers. “Port Chester fest is right outside the front door (of the Open Door Health Center), so it’s a pretty good coordinated effort.”
The Council of Community Services started the fest and oversees every aspect of the event.
“At 8 in the morning, you’re worried if everything’s going to be set up in time, but now seeing people enjoy a great day and not having to worry about all their problem,” said Lipka. “They’re just enjoying what makes Port Chester great, which is the families and diversity. We have a lot of workshops for the children, which they’re donating their time, materials and staff for.”
“You see in this community that there are a lot of different groups and entities that are involved in this,” said NY State Legislator George Latimer. “You have civic clubs, like rotary and the League of Women Voters. You can see the health component, like Open Door and the ambulance corps.”
honored U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, during Port Chester Fest in recognition of National Community Health Center Week
“A lot of the Port Chester Fest was done in collaboration with a lot of our local governments,” said Lipka. “This was started with support from the county the first two years. Then we had support from state Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer. All of our local politicians, especially in Port Chester, provide at no cost the police and showmobile (stage) and we couldn’t do a lot of these things without them, so we want to recognize them for all the hard work that they do. This is a day for them to be here with their constituents and enjoy the day.”
Lipka said the fest represents all the culturally different facets of their community.
The 2012 lineup included the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, Italian classical performances by Malena Dayen, a Multicultural fashion show starring local children and families, the Bethesda Baptist Church Intergenerational Choir, a Zumba Fitness Party, Capoeira with Mestre Bom Jesus, Bolivian sensation Markax Laiku Bolivia with Port Chester’s own Bolivian Carnival dancers, and local R&B star Curtis Winchester.
Family workshops included the, international face-painting with Miguel Cossio, Community Art with Tova Snyder, Westchester Children’s Museum, , Printmaking sponsored by , Recess Rocks, the and more. These workshops provide a wonderful environment for people of all ages to work together, express their creativity, and learn about different cultures.