Crown Street Music Festival proceeds help grow technology programs in local schools

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Male Singer/Trumpeter Craig Watson from the jazz band Convergence sings Frim Fram Sauce by The Nat King Cole Trio. GERALD PINEDA / THE DEPAUW

This past Sunday marked the 14th annual Crown Street Music Festival: a fundraising effort put on by the Family Youth Community Development Program in Putnam County (FYCDP). This organization, founded in 2003 with a donation from former DePauw University president, Robert Bottoms, is now headed by DePauw’s own Bob Hershberger.

Hershberger, a professor of modern languages at DePauw, said the mission of the FYCDP is to serve underprivileged families and youth in Putnam County and beyond. When Hershberger began working at the Crown Street Community Center three years ago, he was initially searching for a place to house the Community Technology Enhancement Program (CTEP).

However, after arriving, Hershberger realized a lot of work was needed to revive the community center. “I began developing programs [at Crown Street] that focused on underprivileged kids, to give them exposure to math, science, and engineering,” said Hershberger.

One of Hershberger’s biggest projects, in regards to activities and outreach, is combining DePauw’s Servicio en Las Americas Program and the community center. Servicio is a 5-week-long summer Spanish immersion program. It emphasizes service and community outreach and typically takes place in central and South American countries .

Hershberger said Servicio students play a big role in the success of Crown Street’s annual music festival. “A few of these students are very talented in fundraising,” he explained, “They have access to national level sponsors who could make a tremendous difference [towards fundraising efforts].”

Another advantage of having Servicio students assist with the music festival is that they provide an additional link between DePauw and the Crown Street Community Center. Hershberger states that involving DePauw students in local community service is extremely important.

“DePauw is surrounded by one of the poorest counties in Indiana,” Hershberger continued, “so there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in our own backyard.”

Junior Jessy Holmberg attended the event and agrees with Hershberger on the importance of integrating DePauw with the community. “I think it would be really awesome for the DePauw student body to become more involved with [Crown Street]. It’s a really cool place,” said Holmberg.

This past weekend’s festival aimed to raise money for “Camp Invention”: an elementary enrichment program the FYDCP hopes to implement in two local schools year-round. This past summer, Servicio students partnered with Deer Meadow and Tzouanakis Intermediate Schools for a week-long summer edition of “Camp Invention.” DePauw students who participated deemed the program worthwhile and are excited about staffing an after-school version of “Camp Invention” at the community center.

The proceeds from the music festival will go towards funding this 15-week program. Hershberger said the implementation of “Camp Invention” as an after-school program will help to “level the playing field for Putnam County school children.” He encourages any DePauw students who are interested in working with children in an educational capacity to reach out.

This year, the music festival included an array of blues and jazz bands, along with adult beverages provided by the Inn at DePauw and food catered by Wasser Brewing. One of the bands who performed, Gravel Road, features DePauw Professor of Modern Languages, Alex Puga. Although Puga has made an appearance at the Crown Street Music Festival in years prior, this was his first go-around with Gravel Road.

Puga explained that the event demonstrates to those in attendance that music is a shared experience, stating, “It’s a great opportunity for the community to be a community.” For an afternoon, the “Town and Gown” divisions, whether visible or invisible, are broken down. “It’s a powerful thing to see people lay aside their presuppositions and celebrate a visceral enjoyment of music,” Puga said.

Overall, Hershberger and Puga both deemed the music festival a success and urged students and the Greencastle community alike to mark their calendars for next year’s event.