Rebirth of a town

July 17, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

ChambersFest, a festival in Chambersburg, Pa., commemorates the burning of the town by Confederate troops in 1864.

It also celebrates, celebrates and celebrates - for 11 days - the rebirth of the town.

This year marks the 17th ChambersFest, which began with one weekend of activities. Events include displays of art, crafts, music, dance, model railroads, quilts, tours of the old jail, a historical church, a history quiz, a four-day Civil War seminar, a pet parade and a competition by area businesses in the zany Almost Anything Goes Games.

"Basically, it's something for everyone," says Melissa Knepper, program and event coordinator with Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.

Art is on display at the Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts Gallery in the Capitol Theatre Cultural Arts Center on South Main Street.

Jazz music begins at 5 p.m. today at Wilson College's Thomson Chapel with a free workshop led by Denis DiBlasio and Steve Rudolph.


Andrew Sussman, executive director of the Cumberland Valley School of Music, says baritone saxman, flutist and scat singer DiBlasio is a jazz educator and former music director for jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. Sussman calls pianist Rudolph a "great communicator." DiBlasio and Rudolph will perform a concert at 8 p.m.

Students from CVSM's Voice and Drama and Jazz camps will perform at the Capitol Theatre at 9 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. Saturday, July 19. The Swing Kids, CVSM alumni, will perform jazz standards at 1 p.m., and the CVSM Jazz Sextet, a faculty band, will perform at 3 p.m.

Old Market Day, Saturday, also will feature folk, Cajun, Celtic, bluegrass and blues music on four stages. Phyllis Chapell will perform Brazilian music. There will be stories, dance, poetry and James Getty performing as Abraham Lincoln.

Two hundred craft and food vendors will fill downtown. Traffic will be detoured from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Main Street will be closed from King to Washington streets. Lincoln Way will be closed from Second Street to Black Avenue. King Street will be closed from Second to Main streets.

Festival organizers say 500 to 600 children are expected Sunday, July 20, for the fourth year of Summer Jam, a free festival for kids at Mike Waters Memorial Playground.

The celebration continues into next week with a pet parade Monday evening.

On Tuesday, July 22, area businesses will compete for a "silly coveted trophy" in the Almost Anything Goes Games, Knepper says. The games are a holdover from the 1976 television show on which a local team, Chambersburg Raiders, competed. Twelve six-member teams with two alternates each are gearing up for wacky contests such as "Rat Race," during which they will race to tables of food with point values assigned.

This year's Civil War seminar, a part of the festival that's been happening since the late 1980s, will focus on Gettysburg. As of last week, 95 people, some from as far away as Texas, had registered for the five-day program.

While offering fun for families, ChambersFest remains a recognition of the area's Civil War history.

It's an opportunity to "celebrate where we've been and where we're going," Knepper says.

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