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eagle drawing contest

Pair of friends from Batavia share in The Batavian's eagle-drawing contest prize

By Howard B. Owens
the Batavian guitar contest
Bella Nugent, Brooklynn Dewe, and Howard Owens.
Photo by Philip Casper.

Bella Nugent, a 12-year-old from Batavia, did her friend a favor at Wednesday's Batavia Muckdogs baseball game.

She drew a picture of an eagle in hopes of winning the Harley-Benton ST-style guitar The Batavian was offering as a prize in its eagle-drawing contest.

Bella's drawing was among the 20 staff picks of favorite drawings and was randomly selected from those 20 entries to win the grand prize.

She was so overcome by the surprise of winning that when she got to The Batavian's booth, she had to sit down.

Then she gave the guitar to her friend, Brooklynn Dewe, who has been learning to play guitar and was equally thrilled by the gift.

The Batavian staff also selected three honorable mentions by Miranda Tamburlin, 16, from Batavia; Annaliede Evans, 15, from Chili; and Laya Laite, 15, from Batavia.  They each received a gift certificate to Dave's Ice Cream.

As first explained a year ago when The Batavian launched this contest:

An eagle is the primary essence of The Batavian’s logo, borrowed from the Upton Monument, which sits at the intersection of routes 5 and 63 in downtown Batavia. Publisher Howard Owens wanted to capture that symbol along with the name of this city he now holds dear after setting down roots more than 15 years ago.

“The Upton Monument is our community's most important and significant landmark, and the eagle that sits atop of it represents independence and courage, two characteristics of good news organizations,” Owens said.  "When planning our new logo, the eagle seems a natural way to represent our commitment to the community and to fearless and honest journalism."

The guitar contests are something Owens said he wanted to do to give back to the community to promote an appreciation for the magic and beauty of music among its youth.

Photos by Philip Casper.

the Batavian guitar contest
Bella Nugent's winning drawing.
Photo by Philip Casper.
the Batavian guitar contest
Photo by Philip Casper
the Batavian guitar contest
Photo by Philip Casper
the Batavian guitar contest
Photo by Philip Casper
the Batavian guitar contest
Photo by Philip Casper
the Batavian guitar contest
Honorable mention by Miranda Tamburlin
the Batavian guitar contest
Honorable mention by Laya Laite.
the Batavian guitar contest
Honorable mention by Annaliede Evans.

The People's Choice: Eagle drawing by Tylin Torcello

By Howard B. Owens
Eagle Entry 19

An eagle drawing by Tylin Torcello, of Batavia, received the most votes during two days of voting at the Media Center at the Genesee County Fair from readers of The Batavian to earn the People's Choice Award. The prize is a harmonica.

To see all 20 of the staff favorites that were finalists in the People's Choice Award, click here.

Previously:

Eagle Entry 17
Second Place, by Miranda Tamburlih, 15.
Eagle Entry 11
Third place, by Vincent Domick, 15.

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The 20 finalists in The Batavian's Eagle Drawing Contest

By Howard B. Owens
Eagle Entry 19
By Tylin Torcello.

Here are all 20 of the staff-favorite eagle drawings readers created while visiting the Media Center at the Genesee County Fair this past week.  The drawing above by Tylin Torcello won the People's Choice award. The prize is a harmonica.

Eagle Entry 1
By Emily Wallace.
Eagle Entry 2
By Kathy Cercere
Eagle Entry 3
By Brooke Frega, 17.
Eagle Entry 4
By Payton Metz, 14.
Eagle Entry 5
By Grace Wheeler, 15
Eagle Entry 6
By Jessica Stonewell
Eagle Entry 7
By Norie Oubre
Eagle Entry 8
By Ian Walthew, 11.
Eagle Entry 9
By Amy LaDuca
eagle drawing 10
By Jane Chaddock.
Eagle Entry 11
By Vincent Dimick, 15.
Eagle Entry 12
By Brandon Squires.
Eagle Entry 13
By Elaine Lemley.
Eagle Entry 14
By Nichole Douglas.
Eagle Entry 15
By Gabriel Valese, 16.
Eagle Entry 16
By Stella Kwiatek, 15.
Eagle Entry 17
By Miranda Tamburlih, 15.
Eagle Entry 18
By Emelie Maysonet.
Eagle Entry 20
By Chris Coyle
colton smith's eagle drawing
Drawing by Colton Smith, 14, who won the Harley Benton guitar.
eagle drawing Genesee County Fair
Drawing by Jadan Torcello, who won the $100 Red Osier gift card.

Batavia resident wins Red Osier gift certificate in eagle-drawing contest at fair

By Staff Writer
red osier winner
Batavia resident Jadan Torcello receives a $100 gift certificate from Red Osier Landmark Restaurant on Friday from Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian. Torcello entered The Batavian's eagle-drawing contest at the Genesee County Fair in the 18-and-older category, and her drawing was among staff favorites selected for a random drawing to win the gift certificate.
Photo by Jim Ernst.
eagle drawing Genesee County Fair
The winning drawing in the 18-and-old category of The Batavian's eagle-drawing contest at the Genesee County Fair by Jadan Torcello 

Local news site shares love of music, community during fair concert

By Joanne Beck
Howard Owens and Colton Smith
Howard Owens, left, publisher of The Batavian, presents the top prize of the local news company's eagle-drawing contest to Colton Smith on Thursday during The Eaglez concert at the Genesee County Fair in Batavia. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

After five days of entries, narrowing down the pool to staff favorites, and a final random drawing at the Genesee County Fair, The Batavian finally had its winner for the guitar giveaway contest. 

And on Thursday, the luck-winning artist, 14-year-old Colton Smith, who has been visiting Genesee County from West Virginia this week, received his prize during The Eaglez concert at the fairgrounds in Batavia. Colton had drawn one of the best eagles for the contest, and he walked away Thursday evening with a white polished Harley Benton Big Tone Trem guitar with gold-colored hardware.

Meant as a source of inspiration for young musicians and as a token of appreciation to the community for all that it has given us in terms of fantastic musical entertainment, the guitar was purchased by The Batavian's publisher, Howard Owens. His hope is that someday we will all be seeing Colton up on stage rocking out or otherwise reaping wild enjoyment out of some musical genre. 

Don't forget to stop by The Batavian's booth on Friday to cast your vote for the People's Choice Award: the Top 20 staff favorite eagle drawings. The winning artist will be announced Friday evening and will receive a harmonica. 

We will also be announcing the 18 and older prize of a $100 Red Osier Landmark Restaurant gift certificate on Friday, so remember to check back and see who won these great prizes!

The Eaglez and The Batavian at the fair 2023
The Batavian's publisher Howard Owens, right, joins The Eaglez tribute band on stage for a few moments Thursday to present a guitar prize to a young artist and aspiring musician during the concert at Genesee County Fair. 
Photo by Joanne Beck
colton smith's eagle drawing
Colton Smith's eagle drawing.

Video: A J Affronti lead guitarist for Knight Patrol tries out Harley Benton BigTone

By Howard B. Owens
Remote video URL

A. J. Affronti, lead guitarist for Knight Patrol, tries out Harley Benton BigTone White Trem guitar at the Genesee County Fair.

The guitar is a featured contest prize from The Batavian at the Genesee County Fair. The guitar contest is open to kids 17 and under. Visit our booth in the Exhibit Hall on the fairgrounds, and while at the booth, draw an eagle on an entry form.  The winner will be randomly selected from among staff-favorite drawings.  The winner will need to be able to attend the Eaglez Tribute Band concert on Thursday evening.

The other big prize from The Batavian at the fair is a $100 gift certificate from Red Osier Landmark Restaurant.  Same rules apply, except you can arrange to pick up the gift certificate any time before the last day of the fair.

The best 20 drawings from the two age groups will be selected for a "people's choice" award, with voting at The Batavian's booth on Thursday and Friday. The prize is a harmonica.

Knight Patrol is playing at the fair tonight (Sunday) in the Entertainment Tent.

The Batavian's guitar contest inspired by the area's community of music artists, today's opportunities for young musicians

By Joanne Beck
Remote video URL

It was as if we arranged the tribute band The Eaglez to perform at Genesee County Fair during The Batavian’s debut, along with WBTA, for the first-time official Media Center at the Fair this coming week.

Along with the Media Center’s booth, The Batavian is sponsoring an eagle drawing contest, with the first prize being Harley Benton BigTone Trem guitar for some lucky artist aged 17 or under. The guitar for the winning eagle drawing (randomly selected from among staff favorites) will be presented during The Eaglez concert on Thursday (July 27) night!

This will now be the third such guitar giveaway sponsored by The  Batavian, and it might seem like a completely incongruous thing for an online media company to do, right? A news site giving away a musical instrument? Shouldn't we give away a typewriter or a camera?

Well, first, let’s explain the eagle-drawing contest.

An eagle is the primary essence of The Batavian’s logo, borrowed from the Upton Monument, which sits at the intersection of routes 5 and 63 in downtown Batavia. Publisher Howard Owens wanted to capture that symbol along with the name of this city he now holds dear after setting down roots more than 15 years ago.

“The Upton Monument is our community's most important and significant landmark, and the eagle that sits atop of it represents independence and courage, two characteristics of good news organizations,” Owens said.  "When planning our new logo, the eagle seems a natural way to represent our commitment to the community and to fearless and honest journalism."

The guitar contests are something Owens said he wanted to do to give back to the community to promote an appreciation for the magic and beauty of music among its youth.

Owens has been a music fan from his most formative years growing up in California, listening to The Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Elvis. He had musical ambitions early on, but his parents couldn't afford the investment in music lessons and instruments, and by the time he did get a cheap, almost unplayable guitar, there was nobody in his family or neighborhood to help him develop his skills.  

"The world of music is so different today than when I was young -- there are guitars available that play and sound great, stay in tune, and are well made that are affordable," Owens said. "The online resources for players of all skill levels, from the first-day beginner to the advanced player, just didn't exist for most of my life. I get excited when I think about the musical opportunities available to kids today, and I want to help point them in the right direction."

No, not everyone is going to be a rock star, Owens admits, but he is aware of how many local musicians there are who have humbly started out on a family keyboard, a hand-me-down guitar or a used set of drums, who continue to gig today, or have found other avenues for careers and secondary incomes in music, or just continue to play for their own enjoyment.

“Batavia, Genesee County, the GLOW region is bursting with musical talent," Owens said. "I'm inspired by so many people, from Bill McDonald and Justin Williams to Tom Ryan, Daniel King, Ray Williams, Steve Kruppner, Dylan DeSmit, Michael Murray, Alex Feig, and the whole Del Plato family, among so many others, that I want to see that local musical tradition continue. Paul Draper shared with The Batavian recently how his musical career began with an inexpensive keyboard, and he's become one of the region's top gigging performers. It's great to see so much talent in our community, and I think we, as a community, can develop more young talent."

For the first two contests, The Batavian set up a booth for a one-day event and gave away an acoustic guitar and a knockoff of a Fender Telecaster.  Since the fair is a bigger, multiday event, Owens said he wanted to find a guitar that would really grab people's attention and get kids excited about the possibility of winning a quality musical instrument.  He figured an archtop guitar would fit the bill, and was excited when he found the Harley Benton BigTone Trem in white.

The guitar, he explained, is patterned after a Gretsch White Falcon, which among guitar enthusiasts is an iconic instrument. A new White Falcon costs thousands of dollars.  The Harley Benton guitar is a fraction of the cost, and Harley Benton is considered one of the world's best budget-line guitar companies.

Steve Kruppner, an accomplished solo performer and guitarist for The Bluesway Band, played it on Wednesday and said he's impressed by it (see video above).

"This is extremely well built," Kruppner said during his test drive of the guitar. "Like I said, I learned guitar on what was probably an Italian-made copy of a Fender Strat. It was just a complete piece of junk. It was unplayable.  The strings were this far off the neck and they wouldn't tune. But this guitar is really sweet. I wouldn't mind having one myself just to have at home right now."

Kruppner admired the tuners, neck, solid build of the guitar, its Bigsby-style tremolo, white finish, gold trim and clean sound of the pickups.  The guitar is both a great lead instrument and a great strummer, like an acoustic guitar, he said.

"I tell you what, if I was 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 years old and I got this guitar, I'd be thrilled," Kruppner said. "This is a far better guitar than what I learned on, I can tell you."

To enter the contest, visit the Genesee County Fair, go to the Exhibit Hall, find the Official Genesee County Fair Media Center, where both The Batavian and WBTA will be set up with booths, and ask for an entry form.  While at the booth, draw your best version of an eagle (entries must be drawn at the booth or nearby). The Batavian staff will select their favorite drawings to be entered into a random drawing.  To enter, you must agree to return to the fair on Thursday night for the Eaglez concert (a free pass will be provided to the winner's family) where you will receive the guitar on stage during the concert.

For adults, there is also an eagle drawing contest, and the prize is a $100 gift certificate from the original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant. The winner will be asked to return to the fair at an agreed-upon appointment time for a promotional photo and to receive the gift certificate.

The People's Choice award is a harmonica.  The Batavian staff will pick its 20 favorite drawings from all the entries, and visitors to the Media Center on Thursday and Friday will vote for their favorite of the 20 selected. The winner will be asked to return to the fair on Saturday for a photo-op and to receive the harmonica.

Steve Kruppner and The Bluesways Band perform at 7 p.m. on Friday in Jackson Square as part of the Business Improvement District's weekly concert series.

Sponsored Post: The Batavian's Guitar-Giveaway Contest at the Genesee County Fair

By Lisa Ace
the Batavian guitar contest

CONTEST RULES:

  • All eagles must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth during the fair.
  • All entry forms must be complete and signed by a parent/guardian if under 17.
  • Those entering for the guitar must be able to return for the prize during The Eaglez concert at 7 p.m. July 27 for a presentation/photo opportunity.
  • All prizes will be presented along with a photo for promotional purposes.
  • Winning entries will be randomly selected from among staff favorites, except for People’s Choice, will be selected by fair attendees from among the Top 20 staff favorites.
  • No purchase necessary to win.

The 17 and under winner of the guitar will be contacted via phone by noon on Thursday, July 27. The winner does not have to be present to win during the actual drawing but MUST be able to come back for The Eaglez concert that evening on Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m. to accept the guitar prize. There will be a photo opportunity on stage with The Eaglez, and the winning recipient for promotional (marketing and media) purposes for The Batavian.  You will receive a complimentary entry to return to the fair for that day. 

All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth. All entries will be reviewed by The Batavian staff, and the winning drawing will be randomly selected from among the top favorites.  Criteria include quality and creativity.

The winner of People’s Choice harmonica will be notified via phone and/or email on Friday, July 28. All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth by the end of the day on Wednesday, July 26. Top 20 staff favorites will be on display Thursday and Friday. The winner will be chosen by voting of fair attendees and announced on Friday, July 28, with prize presentation and a photo taken on Saturday, July 29 at the fair. 

The winner of 18 and older Red Osier gift certificate will be notified via phone and/or email on Thursday, July, 27. Criteria and selection are the same as the 17 and under prize. The winner will receive the gift certificate and have a photo taken by Saturday, July 29. To win, you must agree to come back to the fair to receive the gift certificate and have your photo taken for publication in The Batavian.

No purchase necessary to win. This contest has been made possible with special thanks to The Batavian for sponsoring the guitar and harmonica prizes and to The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant for the gift certificate.

Sponsored Post: The Batavian's Guitar-Giveaway Contest at the Genesee County Fair

By Lisa Ace
the Batavian guitar contest

CONTEST RULES:

  • All eagles must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth during the fair.
  • All entry forms must be complete and signed by a parent/guardian if under 17.
  • Those entering for the guitar must be able to return for the prize during The Eaglez concert at 7 p.m. July 27 for a presentation/photo opportunity.
  • All prizes will be presented along with a photo for promotional purposes.
  • Winning entries will be randomly selected from among staff favorites, except for People’s Choice, will be selected by fair attendees from among the Top 20 staff favorites.
  • No purchase necessary to win.

The 17 and under winner of the guitar will be contacted via phone by noon on Thursday, July 27. The winner does not have to be present to win during the actual drawing but MUST be able to come back for The Eaglez concert that evening on Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m. to accept the guitar prize. There will be a photo opportunity on stage with The Eaglez, and the winning recipient for promotional (marketing and media) purposes for The Batavian.  You will receive a complimentary entry to return to the fair for that day. 

All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth. All entries will be reviewed by The Batavian staff, and the winning drawing will be randomly selected from among the top favorites.  Criteria include quality and creativity.

The winner of People’s Choice harmonica will be notified via phone and/or email on Friday, July 28. All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth by the end of the day on Wednesday, July 26. Top 20 staff favorites will be on display Thursday and Friday. The winner will be chosen by voting of fair attendees and announced on Friday, July 28, with prize presentation and a photo taken on Saturday, July 29 at the fair. 

The winner of 18 and older Red Osier gift certificate will be notified via phone and/or email on Thursday, July, 27. Criteria and selection are the same as the 17 and under prize. The winner will receive the gift certificate and have a photo taken by Saturday, July 29. To win, you must agree to come back to the fair to receive the gift certificate and have your photo taken for publication in The Batavian.

No purchase necessary to win. This contest has been made possible with special thanks to The Batavian for sponsoring the guitar and harmonica prizes and to The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant for the gift certificate.

Sponsored Post: The Batavian's Guitar-Giveaway Contest at the Genesee County Fair

By Staff Writer
the Batavian guitar contest

Contest Rules:

  • All eagles must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth during the fair.
  • All entry forms must be complete and signed by a parent/guardian if under 17.
  • Those entering for the guitar must be able to return for the prize during The Eaglez concert at 7 p.m. July 27 for a presentation/photo opportunity.
  • All prizes will be presented along with a photo for promotional purposes.
  • Winning entries will be randomly selected from among staff favorites, except for People’s Choice, will be selected by fair attendees from among the Top 20 staff favorites.
  • No purchase necessary to win.

The 17 and under winner of the guitar will be contacted via phone by noon on Thursday, July 27. The winner does not have to be present to win during the actual drawing but MUST be able to come back for The Eaglez concert that evening on Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m. to accept the guitar prize. There will be a photo opportunity on stage with The Eaglez, and the winning recipient for promotional (marketing and media) purposes for The Batavian.  You will receive a complimentary entry to return to the fair for that day. 

All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth. All entries will be reviewed by The Batavian staff, and the winning drawing will be randomly selected from among the top favorites.  Criteria include quality and creativity.

The winner of People’s Choice harmonica will be notified via phone and/or email on Friday, July 28. All entries must be drawn at The Batavian’s booth by the end of the day on Wednesday, July 26. Top 20 staff favorites will be on display Thursday and Friday. The winner will be chosen by voting of fair attendees and announced on Friday, July 28, with prize presentation and a photo taken on Saturday, July 29 at the fair. 

The winner of 18 and older Red Osier gift certificate will be notified via phone and/or email on Thursday, July, 27. Criteria and selection are the same as the 17 and under prize. The winner will receive the gift certificate and have a photo taken by Saturday, July 29. To win, you must agree to come back to the fair to receive the gift certificate and have your photo taken for publication in The Batavian.

No purchase necessary to win. This contest has been made possible with special thanks to The Batavian for sponsoring the guitar and harmonica prizes and to The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant for the gift certificate.

Muckdogs fans show artistic flair during drawing contest Monday

By Joanne Beck
renee henning with guitar and drawing
Renee Henning won The Batavian's guitar giveaway contest at Monday's Batavia Muckdogs game at Dwyer Stadium.  Contestants were asked to draw an Eagle in order to enter, and the winner was selected by random out of a Batavian tote bag.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The Batavian was out in full force Monday during the Batavia Muckdogs game, both in our coverage with a freelance photographer and with staff at a booth set up near the entrance at Dwyer Stadium.

Our presence in public has not usually been a luxury we could afford: staff’s time has been precious and usually spent on the day-to-day tasks at hand, whether it be dealing with advertising needs, covering and reporting the news or the arduous billing and financial duties of a publisher.

But we’ve had a change of heart, attitude, focus and business model, and want to:

1. Make the time when possible to get out into the community to meet folks and let you know that we are your local news here to make a difference in Genesee County;

2. Introduce the Early Access Pass program that is twofold in that it allows you to access all of the news that we provide the very minute that we publish it without having to wait the four-hour hold time for non-Early Access members, and makes you, as a supporter helps us hire more reporters to go out and cover even more local news stories; and

3. Encourage creativity and positivity in the community by sponsoring a guitar giveaway with an art contest. During the Muckdogs game, all we asked was for people — kids and adults alike — to draw their best version of an eagle!

The Batavian’s logo incorporates the eagle from one of Batavia’s most iconic symbols on The Upton Monument at the merging of routes 5 and 63. So we thought it only fitting to use an eagle — also long used as a patriotic symbol of the United States and freedom — for our contest.

As many people walked by, asking about the red electric guitar poised on a table at our booth, they couldn’t believe that all they had to do was draw an eagle to enter. Some asked how much it was to enter, and several people shied away, claiming, “I can’t draw.”

Others, however, took the task quite seriously. They went at it with gusto, first deliberating how their eagle would look, and what colors they’d choose. No two eagles looked the same out of the 40 or so submissions.

Some perched looking forward, others looking sideways, with outstretched wings, or wings at their sides, while flying, or remaining idle. Some artists added embellishments of cool blue water beneath and puffy white clouds alongside their wings. Some had stunning details, while others rested in sufficient modesty.

So why a guitar giveaway? That was the idea of Publisher Howard Owens. If you know him at all, you also know his passion for music, and especially for playing guitar.  

“I  get a thrill out of seeing kids get excited about the possibility of winning a guitar,” Owens says,  “and then to see the happiness of the young person who actually won makes the price of the guitar seem all worth it.”

“I love music.  I always have.  When I was a child, I begged my mother for a guitar, but my parents, when I was a child, struggled financially like a lot of young parents,” he said. “Guitars back then were either expensive or just no good.  I didn't get my first guitar until I was 14.

“I now understand that music can be a great path for people. It isn't just about becoming a rock star.  There are lots of ways music can enrich a person's life, even as a career, without being the star on stage,” he said. “So with that background, I want to use the opportunity I have as publisher of The Batavian to encourage people, especially kids, to turn to music.  More music will help make our world better.”

Don’t just take Owens’ word for about how important music can be to one’s life. Paul Draper, who is a busy local musician and lead organizer of the popular annual Ramble music event in Batavia, comes from a very musical family, “where almost everybody played and if they didn't play, they sang.”

“It was part of my family's culture.,” he said, recalling his first instrument was not an expensive piece. “I remember the first instrument I picked up was an old hand-me-down Yamaha keyboard that my mom bought from one of her friends for $50. Up to that point in my life, I had no real musical ability, but I absolutely loved music. I would sit in my room for hours, just tinkering with the keys and finding little melodies.  Eventually, I was able to make some chords and put them together.”

His older sister, Amanda Draper, an accomplished singer and guitar player, noticed that he was starting to pick up on some things and allowed her brother to play backup for her in the family’s basement "studio,” he said.

“It was all downhill from there. From that point, I've played in numerous bands, hosted big events, traveled all over, met some amazing people, and it all started from a $50 hand-me-down keyboard,” Paul Draper said. “So for me, seeing the people behind The Batavian supporting the arts (as they have) and now donating equipment to help young starry-eyed dreamers begin their journey is just amazing. Because I know how far something like this can take a person.” 

The Muckdogs game was the second guitar giveaway, completely financed by Owens, with the first one being an acoustic guitar at a Just Kings-sponsored Juneteenth event a few weeks ago in Batavia. Win or lose, The Batavian sincerely hopes that each aspiring musician keeps on finding a way to make music in the community.

foster roth drawing
Foster Roth works on his version of an eagle for The Batavian's guitar giveaway contest at Dwyer Stadium on Monday evening.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Renee Henning's Drawing.
Renee Henning's drawing.
Drawing by Tyler Chapman
Drawing by Tyler Chapman.
Drawing by Shane Henning.
Drawing by Shane Henning.
Drawing by Foster Roth
Drawing by Foster Roth
clair bohn drawing
Claire Bohn, dressed in her Fourth of July gear, drawing an eagle.
Drawing by Claire Bohn
Drawing by Claire Bohn.
Drawing by Alex Frank.
Drawing by Alex Frank.
Drawing by Laura Dutton.
Drawing by Laura Dutton.
Drawing by Christopher Pursel
Drawing by Christopher P. Pursel
Drawing by James Pontillo
Drawing by James Pontillo.
Drawing by Richard Leigh
Drawing by Richard Leigh
Drawing by Vanessa Leach
Drawing by Vanessa Leach
drawing by Riley Rosenberg
Riley Rosenberg
Carter Perry
Drawing by Carter Perry.

Juneteenth Celebration draws state attorney general, families, appreciation

By Joanne Beck
juneteenth Leticia James
During her visit to the Juneteenth Celebration in Williams Park in Batavia, NYS Attorney General Leticia James stopped by the booth of Mount Zion Church, which is in Batavia, and asked Pastor Jeremai Williams and Cassandra Williams to pray with her.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Not to negate the dozens of local families that stopped by the Just Kings fourth annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration event this weekend, but there was also one special visitor who drove over from Buffalo as well.

State Attorney General Leticia James heard about the festivities — vendors, live music, African dancers, a chicken barbecue, and a performing spoken word artist — and dropped by Williams Park in Batavia.

“I went to the Buffalo parade. I'm here in Batavia celebrating Juneteenth. I'll be going to Rochester shortly. And then tomorrow we're going to Orleans County, so we're doing a number of events here in upstate New York, and it's an honor and a privilege to be here in Batavia. It's absolutely beautiful. So Juneteenth, to me, represents courage. It represents resilience, it represents strength, and it represents freedom,” James said early Saturday afternoon. “And so there are still challenges that we all have to, you know, address. But if we walk together arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, there's nothing that we cannot overcome together.”

What do you think an event like this, with these various vendors and people, means to this community?
“There's so many services, and to me, it really represents three things. It represents faith, family, and community. And that's really what this day is about. And that's what Batavia appears to be all about. So, you know, obviously, there's housing issues all across the state of New York. There's issues obviously, there's a number of migrants who have been sent to upstate New York that we've got to address, there's a crisis in affordable housing, reproductive rights is a major issue, health issues is an issue, employment issues, there's issues with regards to antitrust, there's issues with respect to social media, I can go on and on and on of the issues that we're dealing across the state,” James said. “But if we work together, I'm sure that we can come to a resolution on a lot of these issues. And I, using the strength of the law, will use my office to address those issues because the law is both the sword and shield and protecting the rights here in the state of New York, and that's what I do every day.”

juneteenth Leticia James
NYS Attorney General Leticia James durn an exclusive interview with The Batavian's Joanne Beck during the Juneteenth Celebration at Williams Park.
Photo by Howard Owens

What is the latest status of migrants in upstate New York?
“So I was just speaking to the county executive in Buffalo. And he indicated to me that a number of migrants were sent here (Buffalo) this morning. And he was also told that they anticipate that more will be coming here to Buffalo. And so what we've got to do is work together all across political differences and political parties to try to come to some sort of resolution,” she said. “I do know that there are individuals obviously in need of employment. There's companies up here, obviously, who need workers. So there’s workforce issues that we've got to address. But right now, it's all about housing, finding the housing, and finding the resources to pay for the housing. And hopefully, the federal government will step up and be part of this discussion.”

James has heard of Just Kings, a grassroots group of Black men with a mission to give back to the community through Christmas toy drives, school supply backpack giveaways, chicken barbecue fundraisers and the Juneteenth event.

“And I do know that during the pandemic, they were particularly instrumental in providing individuals who are unfortunately under-resourced and who had a number of challenges. It was this organization who reached out to people in need, communities and families that were most vulnerable,” she said. “And so I really wanted to thank them, and that's why I decided to come up here and celebrate Juneteenth with these young men who are on the ground doing the work of others.”

One of those young men, Brandon Armstrong, was on the other side of the park, working the grill for the chicken barbecue. He believed the turnout was even better this year, with about 20 vendors plus a few guest performers and special guests, including an African drum band and, of course, the state attorney general.

“I think they heard about the event and just showed up. This is just some acknowledgment; it’s celebrating the freedom and just letting people be aware of the holiday,” he said. “We just try to lead by example. When we were younger, we had a few people that would do certain events for different things. Juneteenth wasn’t a big thing back then. We just saw what they did and kind of picked it up from there a little bit. There were some years that we didn’t have anything going on, so I figured we could kind of pick up from there and help out.”

The sun darted in and out of clouds throughout the day as winds occasionally flared, blowing organizational materials off of tables. Various area services and businesses were represented, from mental health and law enforcement to the Democratic Committee, McDonald’s, GO ART!, Mama Dee’z, Genesee County Public Health and — a shameless plug — The Batavian, which conducted a contest for a guitar giveaway.

The first part of the day began at Robert Morris School with many more service organizations and activities for kids and families.

Several families milled about, checking out what each booth had, including jewelry, artwork, face painting, educational materials, popcorn, pizza and other assorted foods and beverages. Vianiliz Rivera carried a goodie bag of items while enjoying an icy blue snow cone.

“I think what they're doing is they're opening what the community is truly about, the black and brown community, and having these beautiful vendors here: domestic violence, mental health, the food that is beautiful food, it's basically opening up to see what the community is about,” Rivera said. “These men, they're giving a beautiful example to the youth, actually to the Batavia community, so I'm proud of them. They're doing a beautiful job.”

All photos by Howard Owens.

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The Batavian had a booth at the Juneteenth Celebration in Williams Park in Batavia and held a contest to give away an acoustic guitar.  Entrants were asked to draw a picture of an eagle, and then the winner was selected at random from the entries.
The winner was Evette Polk, 6, from Batavia.  She was thrilled and promised to learn to play guitar.
Photo by Howard Owens.
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Vianiliz Rivera said, "These men (Just Kings), they're giving a beautiful example to the youth, actually to the Batavia community, so I'm proud of them. They're doing a beautiful job.”
Photo by Howard Owens.
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