September 5, 2008

Carnegie Festival Gets More Family-Friendly

By FA Krift

After last year's Carnegie Arts & Heritage Festival, borough council President Bob Kollar heard from families that the event didn't have enough children-oriented events and activities.

He doesn't expect to hear the same comment today when it opens at 4 p.m.

The festival, which runs through Saturday, hasn't been changed, organizers said. They just "enhanced it for the entire family."

The music remains the centerpiece, but dance ensembles, art and games for kids were added for a wider audience.

"I want the townspeople to have a better time," Kollar said. "A lot of them said they aren't crazy about just going down there for bands."

Under the direction of Carnegie Community Development Corp. Director Leigh White, people from area businesses, public organizations, churches and families volunteered to put together the festival. They hope it will be more inviting to families and children while still providing the music and adult fun that has been a draw along East Main Street.

Planners invited more art vendors, as well as artist performances for a community stage. To inspire some community pride, White said the children and young adult's section will have games with Carnegie themes like the Irishtown fling, a Frisbee toss named after an area neighborhood.

"It's been exciting to see 20 to 40 people sitting around a table not only seeing a better Carnegie but putting a voice to that and building around that and creating an enhanced festival," said Andrew Clark of Adventist Community Services of Greater Pittsburgh, a volunteer organizer.

In its 18th year, the festival traditionally featured blues musical acts. Those musicians are still prominent in the lineup, but a variety of music, including rockabilly, a Beatles tribute band and country have been added.

"We know there are families in Carnegie looking for more than good music," Clark said. "It still is a music event. Basically, we're going to get rid of one of the beer gardens and make one of the stages for community and family friendly artists. In previous years, every time you were watching a band you were standing in a beer garden. You didn't have an option."

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