Col­lab­o­ra­tive In­dian Head ‘Au­tumn Fes­ti­val’ could re­turn

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­ Twit­ter: Tif­fIndyNews

The Town of In­dian Head and Naval Sup­port Fa­cil­ity In­dian Head want to bring a mem­o­rable com­mu­nity fes­ti­val back to Charles County.

On April 20, Brian Klaas, a mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors for the Charles County Cham­ber Of Com­merce and co-chair of the Mil­i­tary Al­liance Coun­cil for Charles County, pre­sented an idea to the Town of In­dian Head Town Coun­cil that would bring the base and town closer to­gether as a com­mu­nity: the re­turn of the Au­tumn Fes­ti­val.

The Au­tumn Fes­ti­val was one of the many col­lab­o­ra­tive events in In­dian Head cre­ated in part­ner­ship be­tween the mil­i­tary base and the com­mu­nity in years past.

“Up un­til 13 or 14 years ago, the base put on an an­nual Au­tumn Fes­ti­val ... the en­tire base opened up the gates to the town and we had a fes­ti­val. It was re­ally a good an­nual event that ev­ery­one looked for­ward to ev­ery year, but the 9/11 [at­tacks] changed a lot of things around In­dian Head for the worse,” Klaas said. “One of the bad things that hap­pened was that a lot of the ac­cess that the com­mu­nity had to the mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tion here in In­dian Head went away, and with that the Au­tumn Fes­ti­val died and has not taken place since.”

He said the fes­ti­val was an op­por­tu­nity to get lo­cals and base per­son­nel to­geth- er be­hind the gate — specif­i­cally in the outer perime­ter of the base — for ac­tiv­i­ties, en­ter­tain­ment and even a chili cook-off con­test the night be­fore the big fes­ti­val.

“Dif­fer­ent of­fice build­ings would make their own chili and it was like a big com­pe­ti­tion,” said Town Man­ager Ryan Hicks.

Mayor Bran­don Paulin gave the MAC’s Au­tumn Fes­ti­val idea two-thumbs up and be­lieves it is a great way to re­con­nect the base with res­i­dents.

“I think this aligns ex­actly with the con­ver­sa­tion that we had about at least the outer perime­ter of the base be­ing open more to the pub­lic,” Vice Mayor Ron Si­toula said. “I think this is def­i­nitely a first step and that it would be a wel­come change. It will slowly build that bond be­tween the res­i­dents and the base.”

Coun­cil­man Cur­tis Smith and Hicks said they do not know whether the gate to the base will ever of­fi­cially be opened to res­i­dents again, but agreed that these dis­cus­sions are a great start and new be­gin­ning for the town.

“The MAC was al­ways cog­nizant of se­cu­rity on the base and we know what it was like in the past with tak­ing se­cu­rity into ac­count, but any op­por­tu­nity we can have to bet­ter part­ner with the largest em­ploy­ment cen­ter here on the western side of the county, we’re go­ing to do,” Klaas said.

Klaas said he is not try­ing to give any­one false hope about the base be­ing com- pletely open more of­ten to res­i­dents, but this is just a start to a com­mu­nity and naval base bond.

He said that this event is some­thing that the MAC board of di­rec­tors agreed they should pur­sue with the town’s bless­ing.

“It’s good to fos­ter these types of com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties, but I don’t want any­one to think that the se­cu­rity re­stric­tions are go­ing to be less­ened,” Smith said.

Smith added that the town and the res­i­dents would like to have more mul­ti­cul­tural events to em­brace the town’s di­ver­sity, and he sees the Au­tumn Fes­ti­val as an op­por­tu­nity to in­cor­po­rate the de­sires of lo­cal res­i­dents. Klaas agreed. “Cul­tur­ally, we re­ally want to make a state­ment with this and show that from 30 years ago, In­dian Head has changed for the bet­ter, and all of these things can be demon­strated through this op­por­tu­nity. We are more di­verse and we want to in­cor­po­rate all of those things that I think will tighten the bond be­tween the com­mu­nity and the base. That bond has suf­fered a lit­tle bit over the past 15 years but the ten­ants on the base re­ally want more in­volve­ment with our com­mu­nity,” said Klaas.

He said he will take the coun­cil’s feed­back to the MAC board of di­rec­tors, dis­cuss a few pos­si­ble fes­ti­val dates and come back to the next town coun­cil work ses­sion with an up­date.

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