Family Fest to honor emergency workers


Family comes in all kinds of packages.

They are created by bloodline, friendships, neighborhoods, communities.

A festival that’s being held Saturday will celebrate those connections, and encourage new connections.

The Family Fest will start at 4 p.m. at the Schroeder Soccer Complex, 405 W. Second St., Jasper.

The vision of the festival is to “unite together and celebrate families of different nations within our community,” said Jessika Henning of Shiloh Church of Jasper, head of the event’s planning committee.

The festival was started years ago by Jasper church Iglesia Nueva Vida, translated as New Life Church, and is being boosted by more churches that have become involved.

“The community is the family,” Henning said. “Yes, we have our differences ;we come from different places. But we are one community, one family.”

A renewed effort to keep the festival going came through the ecumenical council Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide put together after he settled into office. The festival was mentioned at a council meeting and members of the group wanted to support it and get more involved. They wanted to promote the necessity of family, and how that goes beyond a person’s household.

“We want to promote family values in this community. Family values starts with a very big idea that we’re all in this together,” said Pastor Dan Sinkhorn of Shiloh Church. He pushed forward with the idea of promoting family and the festival to the council.

“You’re my neighbor; you’re my coworker in this community; you’re my collaborator. We are communicating values and ideas through this,” he said. “So that makes you my family in in the sociological sense.”

Celebrating family is the goal of Saturay’s festival. There will be music throughout the day and speakers giving short messages throughout the day.

“They all have somtething to do with the theme of family,” Henning said.

At 5:15 p.m., there will be a ceremony honoring emergency workers. It will include the Honor Guard presenting the colors and the St. Joseph Catholic Church choir singing the National Anthem. Sinkhorn will talk about 9/11 — Saturday is the 20th anniversary of that fateful day — and the vital role of emergency workers played on that day and today. The ceremony will also include a prayer.

“You know, 911 reminded us that we’re a family,” Sinkhorn said. “This is what happens when things like this go down — we remember that we’re a human family. We didn’t care what color gender sexual preference or whatever those people in those buildings were. We felt as though someone hurt one of our family members.”

It’s that kind of unity that the festival is encouraging and promoting.

Organizers hope to have people sign up to play kickball games with each other. The times of those will be determined once people sign up at the festival. “We will determine those times based on signups,” Henning said. There will also be yard games like cornhole set up for people to play throughout the day.

Some emergency vehicles will be on site for people to check out. And there will be inflatables for the chilldren, a free photo booth and food trucks. Nonprofit organizations and churches will have booth, and each booth will have an activity for participants.

After the closing ceremony, a family-themed movie will be shown on a big screen for the crowd. People are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to watch the show.

“It’s all to cultivate a safe, fun time with family,” Henning said.

Information about the Family Fest can be found at its Facebook page, @duboiscofamilyfestival.

Family Fest Schedule

4 p.m.: Opening prayer by Pastor Joel Rivera; food vendors and inflatables open

4:15 p.m.: Talent by Iglesia Nueva Vida

5 p.m.: Message by Pastor Maria Lopez

5:15 p.m.: Ceremony honoring emergency workers led by Pastor Dan Sinkhorn, with Honor Guard and the St. Joseph Catholic Church choir singing the National Anthem

5:30 p.m.: Music by St. Joseph Catholic Church choir

5:45 p.m.: Message by Father Andrew Thomas

6 p.m.: Talent by Shiloh Church; photo booth opens

6:45 p.m.: Message by Pastor David King

7 p.m.: Talent by Victory Assembly of God Church

7:45 p.m.: Message by Pastor John David

8 p.m.: Talent by Redemption Christian Church

8:30 p.m.: Closing prayer and ceremony

9 p.m.: Family-themed movie begins

All events will take place at the Schroeder Soccer Complex on West Second Street.

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