A Production of The Folk Life ( Inc. 1976)
John McLaughlin and Jamie Downs, Editors

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Our World: All In One County
The First Monroe County Heritage Day,
May 3, 2003

Little River Kung Fu School with Master Marilyn Cooper

Perhaps a bold claim, but still the first annual Monroe County Heritage Festival, held on campus at East Stroudsburg University on Saturday, May 3, 2003, with historical display tables around College Circle, ethnic dance performances in Abeloff Auditorium, oral history videos in Beers Lecture Hall, outdoor music and Kung Fu in front of Stroud Hall and a Native American pow-wow on the Quad, did its best to live up to its proud sub-title.

Then you could wander out to the thunder of African drumming and singing by Maxwell Donkor and crew in front of Stroud, circle around back to the Quad for the pow-wow lectures, and come on back for hotdogs and chicken-on-a-stick, before heading on down to College Circle and its display tables once more, passing the children dancing to the music in front of Stroud Hall. with Peter Taney of the Juggernaut String Band proclaiming “Appalachian Ju Ju!” as he drummed on the banjo.

Maxwell Donkor and Sankofa
Janet Bregman Taney of Juggernaut String Band
It was that kind of day, alternately entertainment and information, and the family crowd meandering around the tables encircling Julia, the statue to the ESU war dead on the College Circle, seemed to be having a very pleasant time.

The weather cooperated, fair and mild, and you could wander from the Polk township display of their role in pre-Revolutionary War Monroe County to a serene discussion of the ashram in Saylorsburg to a grisly lecture on Civil War surgery – how to amputate bones shattered by musket-balls with a chain-link saw, anyone?
The Sanitarians

– or step inside Abeloff for some elegantly light-skipping sword-dances by Samantha and Caitli Kraeutler of the Scottish Highland Dancers, or some graceful, willowy Middle Eastern dance by the Beledi Dance Company.

There was an accompanying souvenir program, in the form of a newsprint supplement to the local newspaper, The Pocono Record, which might wind up getting laminated for souvenir purposes. It featured an editorial on the multi-cultural aims of the festival by Bill Watson, Managing Editor of the Record, and fascinating background on the long history of Monroe County by Candace McGreevy, Executive Director of the Monroe County Historical Society, together with a welcome to ESU by President Robert Dillman, discussing how the history of the school, at one time a “Normal School,” strictly for preparation of public school teachers, is intertwined with the history of the county, as it has grown from a farming to an exurbanite community, with NY commuters on the I-80 slingshot to Manhattan passing just beyond College Circle.

The complex multicultural themes were picked up by articles in the program from the Pocono Record stable of feature writers, among them Helen George (on ESU’s African American Student Alliance, and on African /American experience with discrimination in upstate Pennsylvania), Eric Mark (on the local Greek community, and on various local historical societies, in Barrett, Jackson and Polk Townships), Carol Yoka (on the expanding Latino professional community in the Poconos, and on the role of Passover in the Pocono Jewish community), Kevin Amerman (on the Italian-Americans and stereotyping), Erin Doolittle (on the Slate Belt Welsh Society, and on the local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians), and Aaron Applegate (on the Asian-American Student Association – which welcomes students of any ethnic background). Welcome to Monroe County.

Text by John McLaughlin

Photos by Jamie Downs


Rope making by Quiet Valley Historical Farm Volunteers