Heritage Festival XI will be dedicated to Phillips, Marshall

February 29, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

This year's Heritage Festival play, "Martin Said So," features a new partnership between West T. Hill Community Theatre and festival umbrella organization Citizens Concerned for Human Relations. It also will be dedicated to two prominent members of the African-American Community, Marvin "Bennie" Phillips (1935-2003) and Rosetta Marshall (1939-2003).

Festival chairman J.H. Atkins says Phillips was a founder and one of the original board members for CCHR. Phillips also portrayed John W. Bate, a noted local educator, in plays for the festival.

Marshall was a local hairdresser, says Atkins, who played the piano and organ.

"She has played at every African-American church in the community," Atkins notes. "She provided music for all of our plays."

A reception will follow the show. Admission to the performance of "Martin Said So" is a non-perishable food item that will be donated to The Salvation Army's food pantry.

New to Heritage Festival XI is a Chautauqua performance by Haley Bowling of Anna Mac Clark as well as a reading by Danville native Frank X Walker from his book "Buffalo Dance." Kid activities this year include storytelling, ethnic weaving and a diversity persentation by the Kids on the Block puppeteers.


Additionally, a NASCAR track will be set up in the gymnasium at Danville High School, where the festival is held. Atkins says the cars are about 2 feet long, and kids will be able to race cars around the track.

The popular ethnic food court returns this year, as well as the Sunday community worship service. The Heritage Festival Workshop Choir, comprised of 35 to 50 members of different ages from various religious denominations, will perform at the opening ceremony under the direction of Charles Little.

Atkins hopes to have the "Georgia Mitchell Legacy" on display at the festival. Before Mitchell died a few years ago, she compiled 50 scrapbooks of articles from The Advocate-Messenger that highlighted African-American accomplishments in the community.

"Her children hopefully will bring it for the third time," he notes.

Other displays will include "Great Black Kentuckians"; "Doctors, Doctors, Doctors," a compliation of information about African-Americans in Danville and Boyle County who have earned doctoral degrees; and a "Buffalo Dance"-inspired exhibit that includes several poems written by students after they read Walker's book.

Atkins adds the continued success of the Heritage Festival is "measured by the diversity of the audience that attends" each year, as well as that the festival is free.

"The first year, the festival just focused on the African-American influence in the community," explains Atkins. "In the 10 years since then, (the festival committee) was wise enough to invite all different ethnic groups in the community display at the festival. ... It's really been about opening up."

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