International Festival returns

Published 2:47 am Friday, September 12, 2003

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
DOWAGIAC -- The 2003 "Sing for Mother Earth" Tour for Environmental Justice, with Native American singers and songwriters Annie Humphrey and Joe Reilly will be featured at the Dowagiac International Festival Sunday, Sept. 14 between 3 and 5 p.m.
Also featureed will be Litefoot the Native American rap artist and movie star of "The Indian in the Cupboard," and "Mortal Kombat." Litefoot will take the stage at 5 p.m.
The festival itself at Union High School will begin with a parade and awards ceremony at 11 a.m. Honored will be two women who have devoted much of their lives to increasing racial harmony, Lydia Godisak of the Dowagiac High School Migrant Program and Sondra Mose Ursey of Vandalia and the Underground Railroad Foundation.
Until 7 p.m., the festival will feature additional live entertainment, co-ed soccer tournament, ethnic food booths, arts and crafts, a garage sale, theatre and other children's activities.
The stage will be set up in the high school parking lot. Along with the musical performance of Humphrey and Reilly, other performers will be Fada Wayne of the High Grade Reggae Band and the City Prophets of Zambia. Dennis Ash of Cassopolis will DJ and Claudia Cano, a PAL Circle volunteer will translate announcements.
Annie Humphrey, Anishnaabe, was born and raised on an Ojibwe Indian reservation in Northern Minnesota. For the past four years she has organized a tour in Minnesota to benefit the homeless entitled, "The How Far is Home Tour."
Humphrey was the winner of the 2001 Native American Music Awards for Best Female Artist and Best Country/Folk Recording.
An accomplished musician and songwriter, Joe Reilly, Cherokee/Italian/Irish, draws on folk, blues, his own heritage, and his life experience to birth songs of power, wisdom, and compassion.
Interactive exhibits will be offered by Southwestern Michigan College Museum, and games by Camp Eberhard counselors. The New Tribe drummers will offer a drumming workshop.
Also during the festival, the Minority Coalition of Cass County, sponsor of the festival, will hold a "Prevention Fair" to raise awareness about prevention resources in the community. Participants will receive a t-shirt.
Tables on alcohol abuse will include Steph Ballew leading a discussion of the video, "The truth about alcohol." Amanda Harper of the Edwardsburg Police Department and Edwardsburg Schools will demonstrate special vision goggles. "Egg demonstrations," will show the effects of alcohol on the baby when a pregnant woman drinks.
Susan Worley, DARE officer from Dowagiac Police Department and Tonya Cosey, Woodlands Adolescent Therapist, will offer the truth about drugs such as how marijuana affects the brain.
Positive behavior will be emphasized by Connie Burrus, Behavioral Specialist for Edwardsburg schools.
Mona Hale, Cass Public Health educator, will show a video about healthy relationships and teen pregnancy.
The Coalition received a $1,000 grant to help conduct their "Prevention Fair" according to Adrienne Glover, facilitator for the Minority Coalition. The Coalition meets in the morning on the third Tuesday of the month at various locations throughout the county.
The International Festival is chaired by Ruth Andrews, of Cass County's Human Services Coordinating Council. Agency partners include: the Cass County Youth Council, Southwest Michigan Community College, the Pokagon Band, Woodlands Behavioral Network, Cass County Council on Aging, Preferred Printing of Dowagiac, Midwest Energy Cooperative, Connelly's Funeral Home of Cassopolis, the City of Dowagiac, and Dowagiac Union Schools.
Volunteers and sponsors are welcome, as the budget for the event is $8,000 and the committee is looking to raise $3,500 locally.
For more information about the festival contact Andrews at (269) 445-5019, call Glover, at the COA at (269) 445-8110, or leave a message at (269) 476-2242.