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40th year of ComFest draws ‘well-seasoned rookie’ crowd

John Wernecke / Asst. multimedia editor

The Community Festival known as ComFest is reminiscent of the anti-war era of the 1960s and 1970s. It emphasizes that people should try to live in harmony with the environment and with each other.

The free event was held Friday through Sunday at Goodale Park, located at the south end of Victorian Village. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the festival.

It began as a street party in 1972 by a small group of friends who were musicians. Initially its purpose was to celebrate alternatives in food, health care and housing.

This year’s slogan was “The People, Yes!” derived from a 1930 Carl Sandburg poem.

A blend of musicians, workshops, accredited continuing education classes and speakers rounded out the entertainment and offerings held at the six stages around the park. A solar powered “Peace Village” station offered demonstrations on living green.

Booths were set up for selling merchandise, passing out literature and housing political awareness campaigns. Some volunteers collected petition signatures for equal marriage rights and registered voters.

G. Josey Joseph, a 1992 graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design, said he has attended ComFest for more than 25  years, three of which he worked as a vendor.

“The first time I came to ComFest they were in an abandoned lot … the only stage was a flatbed truck and maybe there were hundreds of people,” Joseph said. “I’m sitting here almost in disbelief that this has suddenly become … one of the most major events in the city.”

Food and drinks were offered around the perimeter of the park and choices ranged from a score of ethnic varieties to health conscious or vegetarian to hot dogs and burgers. Beer, wine, water and smoothies were also sold.

Dan Thomas, a United States Air Force veteran,  said he has been a volunteer for 14 years running the Community Festival Street Fair, 

“Community food is all the local area food vendors that I assist in setting up and trouble shoot any problems they have,” Thomas said. 

 Thomas called himself a “well-seasoned rookie” because every ComFest he learned something different.

“By learning something different, it just makes you that much of a whole volunteer,” Thomas said.

The festival also had kid-friendly performances, and children did crafts and built structures with cardboard blocks.

 Victorian Village resident Megan Losinske has been coming to the event for 12 years and this was the second year for her 17-month-old son, Kingston.

“We like to people watch … to sugar coat it,” Losinske said.

Niki Mathews came in from Dayton with her husband and is Losinske’s high school friend.

“This is probably my ninth or 10th year,” Matthews said. “I do like watching people … we come, we hang out all day and relax, have a good time.”

Some people came to hang out before work or after work. Ami Iannone and Jakob Murphy work at the Cup o Joe across the street on North High Street and were there with their dog and friend Joe Wilkowski.

“This is only my second year,” Iannone said. “Everybody we know is down here. It’s food and music, beer and sunshine.”

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