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Corydon’s cultural center

Corydon’s cultural center
Corydon’s cultural center
Middle Eastern dancer Tahira (Patrice Perryman) of Louisville was almost a whirling dervish Saturday at World on the Square in Corydon. (Photos by Randy West)

For four hours Saturday evening, the world was at peace. In Corydon, Ind. People from various countries, cultures, ethnic groups and religions all got together and talked, broke bread, took pictures of each other, danced and made music together.
‘It was wonderful,’ said Melissa Jackson, co-chair (with Augus Juliawan) of the fifth annual World on the Square festival in Corydon, sponsored by Community Unity. Jackson was referring to the impressive crowd, the spectacular fall weather, and the number of participants who manned 28 booths representing various cultures, from Scots to Taiwanese, from Eritreans to North American Indians.
‘The children seem to be really interested and involved in all the booths. That’s what this is really all about ‘ education,’ said Jackson.
The temporary wooden dance floor in front of the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand was crowded with eager, unrestrained children whenever a musical group took to the stage ‘ Mexican music by Mariachi Zelaya from Indianapolis, African music by Yaya Diallo of Louisville, and the Middle Eastern music by Salaam, from Bloomington. The children had to be shooed off the floor so the Malek belly dancers of Louisville could wow the crowd, but the kids and adults were soon invited back to snake dance through the crowd on the town square, led by Fatin (Liz Copeland). Many people responded.
Jews and Muslims sat side-by-side in the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee booth, and they spoke optimistically about the chances for peace someday between Israelis and Palestinians. Marcia Schneider of Louisville said the Internet gives peace activists all over the world a chance to network, and more people seem willing to want information on both sides of the conflict, not just the Israeli viewpoint. She believes that different policies by different administrations, both here and abroad, could eventually lead to peace in that part of the world.
Alan Lopp of Lanesville encouraged people to sign a petition calling for making Harrison County a ‘hate-free zone.’
‘Don’t take this festival lightly’ said West African dancer Harlina Diallo, who appeared with her husband, Yaya Diallo, a drummer, recording artist and author. She teaches dance at the University of Louisville and he teaches music at Bellarmine University. She taught the children a few dance steps and African words. Yaya was here despite recent five-hour eye surgery.
‘The world is getting smaller,’ said Harlina, who entertains with her husband all over the world. ‘We are no longer an island’ separated from everyone else. She said we should try to understand each other and appreciate our differences. ‘We are all humanly connected, like a circle, with no beginning and no end.’
‘Eneche.’ (Thank you.)
She introduced and thanked Kirby Bachman of Depauw, one of the main driving forces behind World on the Square over the years.
Participants were invited to take ‘passports’ to at least 10 booths to get answers to a relevant question. When they had visited at least 10 booths, they could win a small prize from another country. Four hundred-thirty passports were distributed.
One of the most popular performers at the festival was the Rev. Jaime Reyes, a native of Puerto Rico who pastors St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Corydon. He is also a puppeteer, and he brought several marionettes with him. Both children and adults were fascinated with the hand-made puppets, which are fairly large but weigh only two pounds. They’re hand-made of plastic and celastic, similar to jesso, and they’re dressed in colorful costumes. One might take 80 hours to make.
Puppeteering has been in the Reyes family for half a century, and their collection numbers 379.
His most unique marionette was Captain Kidd, a little pirate skeleton whose bones flew apart. Reyes’s father, Fred Cowan of Lebanon, Ind., who has trained puppeteers all over the world, designed and created Captain Kidd.
The oddest costume was worn by Daniel Plummer, 26, of Georgetown. He wore a plastic blow-up suit that, with a little imagination, made him look like a sumo wrestler. For some reason, Plummer, a computer systems expert for St. Jude’s Research Hospital fund-raising center in New Albany, felt compelled to do handstands. He was connected to the Japan booth. ‘I will attract them (visitors) or scare them away,’ Daniels said.
Across the way, Tom Yuan, 71, and his wife, Lan Ling, 69, both engineers trained in China, stamped large buttons of digital photographs made on the spot. Tom designed railways in China for 33 years before he became a visiting professor at the Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville.
Easily the most popular stop at the festival was the Corydon United Methodist Church basement, where dishes from all over the world had been prepared for sampling by local people. The line formed outside the church before food was served, starting at 4 p.m., by volunteers from the Todd-Dickey Nursing Center in Leavenworth and Indian Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center in Corydon.