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Strolling the Streets Chambersfest draws people downtown

July 18, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Thousands of people strolled the streets of downtown Chambersburg Saturday, enjoying live music, street entertainers and a huge variety of food on the first full day of ChambersFest 2004.

The annual 16-day festival commemorates the burning of Chambersburg by Confederate soldiers on July 30, 1864, and the spirit of the citizens who rebuilt the town.

One block in each direction from Memorial Square was closed to traffic and lined with more than 200 booths selling a variety of food and crafts. Specialties such as gyros, monkey bread, sweet potato fries, baked potatoes, jerk chicken, fish, crab cakes and a variety of fruit drinks sold briskly.

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A variety of bands provided live music on the Courthouse Plaza and the South Main Street stage all day. Uncle Sam on Stilts and The Monkey Man and his small, brown monkey roamed Main Street, attracting crowds of children.

Shakhil Shaffer, 9, and Secret Shaffer, 2, made fruit-scented candles by layering colored wax beads into glass containers at the Create Your Candle booth. Shakhil said his favorite part of ChambersFest was "when the monkey was standing on my shoulder." Both he and his sister enjoyed the Dippin' Dots ice cream. They were accompanied by their mother, Amy Johnson of Chambersburg.

Their friend, Isom Polito, 8, of Chambersburg, also created a candle and had some ice cream. His mother, Gina Polito, said she and Johnson bring the children to the festival every year. All three children carried wooden pop guns they had purchased at a craft stand.

The Create Your Candle booth is run by Dale and Mara Swain of Hunlock Creek, Pa.

Melissa Knepper, program and event director with the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, sat on the platform of the dunking booth while friends threw tennis balls at a target. Getting soaked repeatedly was not a problem, Knepper said, as the funds raised at the booth go to good causes.

Proceeds go to Chambersburg Young Professionals, the Connor Kirby Infant Memorial Foundation and TRUCE - Teens Resisting Unhealthy Choices Everyday.

TRUCE is a voluntary program that rewards students for being drug-free and influences those using drugs to reject them.

"I'll be subjected to all my friends doing this," Knepper said. "If we can save one kid from using drugs, it's worth it."

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