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Liberty unites at Walnut Mountain Park

By Matt Shortall
Posted 9/3/21

The First Annual Liberty Unity Festival took place on Sunday, August 29, bringing people together at Walnut Mountain Park to celebrate Liberty’s diverse community spirit.

Sullivan County …

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Liberty unites at Walnut Mountain Park

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The First Annual Liberty Unity Festival took place on Sunday, August 29, bringing people together at Walnut Mountain Park to celebrate Liberty’s diverse community spirit.

Sullivan County District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez, whose district covers all of the village and most of the town of Liberty, said they’d like to make the event an annual occurrence.

“Given it was the first time we ever did something like this, I’d say it was an outstanding success,” Alvarez said.

Sullivan County Human Rights Commission Executive Director, Adrienne Jensen spoke of the different ways to express unity. She said unity can mean everyone together as one, but it can come in different forms.

“I would argue that unity is something we can never truly reach, but a concept that we can move in and out of. We can use it as a guidepost to hold up our thoughts and our actions,” Jensen said. “So get in there. Ask questions. Help each other out. Remember we are not perfect and we are learning and evolving. We are a community. Learn your rights. Learn your rights. Learn your rights.”

“Support the rights of others,” Jensen continued. “Support our children having a rich education that reflects the world they’re going to have to navigate when they get out there. Remember we are Sullivan County - not anecdotes that you hear on the news or on the TV. We live in a close knit community.”

One of the event organizers, Lisa Ponce, said they were trying to come up with ways to do something for a community impacted by COVID-19 and all the restrictions that came with it.

“It was just a really hard year for everybody, so we figured why don't we start with an event and just bring people out. We wanted to make it ‘low cost’ or ‘no cost’, which is what we did.”

Ponce said that many different local organizations volunteered to sponsor the event, including Cornell Cooperative Extension, Sullivan Renaissance, Action Toward Independence, Jeff Bank, Hudson Valley Foie Gras and more. 

Rolling V Bus Company volunteered to transport people from the village up to Walnut Mountain Park and back again afterward.

Ponce says they hope to attract more volunteers next year and have an even greater impact.

“Maybe now that we got it started more people will feel encouraged to help out.”

Originally scheduled for August 22, the Unity Festival was postponed until the following Sunday due to concerns over Hurricane Henri.

Alvarez said they worried the rain date would impact turnout, but he was pleased by the number of people and families who still made the day special.

“It was amazing to hear so many people speaking Spanish and different languages,” Alvarez said. “It’s important for us to get together and recognize who we are as a community.” 

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