BCOH South Side Community Block Party a hit for families

Full article from Mike Lewis of Herald Mail Media available here: South Side Community Block Party, Fall Fest fill City Park

Block Party, Fall Fest fill Hagerstown City Park Saturday

Near one end of Hagerstown’s City Park on Saturday, people took in a bit of history at the Jonathan Hager House, which dates to about 1740.

Meanwhile, near the other end of the park, others used high-tech toys to play laser tag.

In the middle was a little bit of everything, from arts and crafts to paddle boat rides, from health information to games, and from country tunes to R&B/soul music.

The park hosted the annual City Park Fall Fest from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and the fourth annual South Side Block Party, organized by Bester Community of Hope, from noon until 3 p.m.

“This is the first year we’ve partnered with the city and did (the party) at the same time as Fall Fest and Porchfest,” said Jen Younker, director of Bester Community of Hope.

Bester Community of Hope is an initiative of San Mar, which focuses on positive outcomes for children and families in the Bester Elementary School neighborhood.

Younker said the idea behind the block party is to provide family-oriented fun as well as access to information and resources people might need. The party is a way to build relationships not just among neighborhood residents, she said, but also between residents and those resources.

About three dozen booths were set up by a range of organizations and services, from the Washington County Health Department to the Washington County Free Library.

At the band shell, two musical groups performed.

Kerry Fair, neighborhood partnership coordinator for Bester Community of Hope, said she met people from New York and Ohio during the event.

“They’ve come from far and wide to see The Swon Brothers,” she said.

A country music act from Oklahoma, The Swon Brothers are known from the TV show “The Voice.”

The opening act, the Washington, D.C.-based R&B/soul group The Chuck Brown Band, also attracted a crowd.

Judy Harris of Washington, D.C., said she came to hear the group. And Audrey Gaines-Terrell of Hagerstown was at the park with her husband, Tony Terrell, and 4-year-old Amaya Terrell. Audrey said her husband is from D.C. and is “a longtime fan.”

Ayesha King of Hagerstown stopped by a booth set up by Family Healthcare of Hagerstown near one of the park’s playgrounds. She said she came to the park with her children, Ayma-jee Calhoun, 9, and Ayziah Wells, 5.

“I brought the kids,” she said. “They’re going to play and enjoy themselves.”

Ten-year-old Nathan Wayner enjoyed a game of laser tag. His team won its contest.

His mother, Jennifer Webber, said the family lives in Chambersburg, Pa., but makes the trip to Hagerstown often.

“We come to City Park usually every other weekend,” she said.

The annual City Park Fall Fest traditionally offers a fusion of arts, entertainment and history.

To that end, various family-friendly activities took place at the Jonathan Hager House, the City Park Train Hub, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and the Mansion House Art Museum.

At the museum of fine arts, 8-year-old Shaelynn Farrow of St. Thomas, Pa., tried her hand at spinning wool.

“She loves art,” said her mother, Shonda Farrow.

In addition to the City Park Fall Fest and the South Side Block Party, Saturday’s events included the annual Porchfest in the 100 block of South Prospect Street. For part of Saturday afternoon, a shuttle was available to take people from one event to another.

Porchfest was scheduled for 2-6 p.m. It featured a variety of musicians playing on porches of historic homes, as well as food trucks and a kids’ porch.