By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Over 60 organizations will gather for Oklahoma City’s 28th annual Fall Peace Festival offering a cornucopia of items for this year’s holiday shoppers. The event is free and open to the public.
The festival will take place on Saturday, November 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Civic Center Music Hall’s “Hall of Mirrors,” 201 N. Walker, in downtown Oklahoma City.
A diverse collection of local groups will provide free informative materials, along with refreshments and a wide array of crafts and other items for sale.
“Visitors will find tables and booths of local groups and organizations active in social justice, human service, human rights, environmental sustainability and peace,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, director of Oklahoma City’s Peace House. “The Peace Festival showcases the good efforts of private groups working in those areas.”
Fair trade and homemade goods on sale are from across the globe as well as locally produced. They include pottery, crafts and organic coffee from Central America, carving and hand-made items from Africa, and the work of local artists and craftspeople.
Organizations will feature books, calendars and t-shirts, along with membership opportunities.
The daylong event will offer an adult supervised children’s activity room hosted by the Peace Education Institute. Activities will include a story quilt, floor puzzles, games, and face painting.
“Live entertainment by local musicians and fair trade goods on sale make this a popular event for supporters of human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability, and peace,” said Conna Wilkinson, Director of the Peace Education Institute, and event cosponsor.”
Other festival sponsors include the Social Justice Committee First Unitarian Church, Bob Lemon, Kay Adair, Summit Business Systems, Home Creations, Bright Lights of OKC, and the Oklahoma Observer.
“The annual Peace Festival is one of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (OK-CADP) most anticipated events for sharing information about our vital mission,” said Adam Leathers, OK-CADP co-chair. “There are many misconceptions about the death penalty. This event provides us the opportunity to discuss accurate facts about issues such as how often families of murder victims request alternative punishments over death and that it does not deter violent crimes.”
Festival entertainment will be provided by Oklahoma musicians Steve McLinn, founder of Ojas Recording Studio and Jahruba, world-class hand drumming artist. Student and faculty dancers from the Aalim Bellydance Academy will again present their popular art.
“Aalim Bellydancers have performed at the Peace Festival for several years and it is truly one of our favorite festivals to support,” said Aini Amar of Aalim. “The audience is always so engaged and appreciative. It makes dancing at the Peace Festival a real pleasure for our bellydancers.”
The festival will also feature a harpist and a solo performance of the “oud,” a Middle Eastern stringed instrument.
Batchelder said. “Visitors are inspired by the community of local groups and people making a difference in our world and right here in Oklahoma City.”
The festival presents an atmosphere of diversity and tolerance for its guests. Cultural and spiritual traditions including Buddhist, Baha’i, Moslem, Quaker, Religions United, and Unitarian Universalists will be represented.
Oklahoma City’s Cimarron Alliance Foundation, an organization that works to promote equality for Oklahoma’s LGBT community, is a longtime festival participant.
Scott Hamilton, Cimarron Alliance Foundation executive director said, “Every year we get to meet people who might otherwise never know about our work. I wish everyone in Oklahoma City could experience such a powerful spirit of cooperation as exists at the Peace Festival.”
The festival will provide a preview of the new products Pambe Ghana’s Global Market will have for sale this year, including fair trade toys, jewelry, kitchenware, shawls, Christmas ornaments, and household décor.
Terry Dennison, Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma Director of Educational Services said. “We want to help people understand that sexuality is a basic, integral part of life. The decisions we make every day regarding sexuality can have profound, long-lasting effects regarding issues such as life planning, self-determination, and economic security.”
The Oklahoma Vegetarian Society will offer homemade snacks, lunch items and recipes expounding on the benefits of a plant-based diet, without meat.
“Children need to see adults modeling activities such as the Fall Peace Festival in their community,” said Gail Sloop, art educator at Sequoyah Elementary in Oklahoma City.
More information is available by calling the Peace House in Oklahoma City at 405-524-5577, or by visiting www.PeaceHouseOK.org.