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Benedum Festival fair a family event

by Danny Forinash

STAFF WRITER

Bridgeport's sixth annual Benedum Festival continued on Saturday evening with music, food and entertainment at the Bridgeport City Park. The park fair is in its fifth year.

"It's a family fun event where kids and adults can come and really enjoy themselves," said Ruth Allen, festival staff member and one of this year's Benedum Fellow award winners. "It also helps us to remember what Michael Benedum did for Bridgeport."

"The weather has been good and I think it's been successful," said Ruth's husband, Robert Allen, the other Benedum Fellow winner.

Face painting and small games were available for children, the proceeds from which will go to help next year's festival and park fair. An inflatable obstacle course and paintball shooting gallery were also set up for the kids courtesy of Time Out Productions. Children also had fun with a dunking booth provided by the Bridgeport Fire Department.

The evening hit full swing when the Bridgeport High School Band Front Line performed on the park's basketball court. The girls were followed by the Shinnston Area Community Band, which played an eclectic musical mix inside the shelter, including jazz and classical.

Louis Oliverio, who helped form the Shinnston band with Randall Hall, called the fair a "good way to gather people together for good, clean fun."

The musical entertainment continued with a performance by country singer Candy Baker, followed by a variety of tunes from Rick K. and the Allnighters.

"We just came out to hear music and watch the entertainment," said Paul Shearer. "It's definitely a good event for the city."

Shearer said that he would like to see more Bridgeport organizations and clubs participate in the fair with more activities for kids.

"This (fair) is a great base to grow from and it has certainly made progress," said Shearer, who has lived in Bridgeport for 34 years. "I'd like to see more community involvement and see it turn into an all-day event."

"It would be great to see more teen-agers here too," continued Shearer. "I think a good idea would be to have more area rock bands to show off their talents and bring more young people to the festival."

Paul's wife, Eva, a member of the Bridgeport Woman's Club, added that it was also important to remember the man for whom the festival was named. "Michael Benedum did a lot and is still doing a lot through his foundation for the city," she said. "You can just look around and see all he did."

The city's pool, Methodist church, civic center, cemetery and airport are some of the things Bridgeport has received through the generosity of Michael Benedum, according to Robert Allen.

Saturday's festivities also featured morning fishing at Deegan Lake for children, the festival's annual 5K-run, a pet parade at Bridgeport Middle School and an afternoon golf pitch-in contest.

The festival will conclude today with a vesper service and live gospel music in Bridgeport City Park starting at 6:30 p.m.

Staff writer Danny Forinash can be reached at 626-1446.

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