A mural underway at last year's Democracy Fest. Courtesy photo

Democracy Festival to offer food, fun, and ‘opportunities for engagement’

June 7, 2024

By Laurie O’Neill — Correspondent

Community groups will come together for Concord’s second annual Democracy Festival on Saturday as organizers look to unite a diverse group of visitors behind a single, far-reaching cause.

“We need to build a powerful, inclusive, collaborative democracy,” says Fred Van Deusen, the leader of Reclaiming Our Democracy, which is organizing the event. 

He calls the festival “a great opportunity for attendees to learn how they can help protect our democracy in this difficult and challenging time, regardless of their politics.”

First Parish in Concord will host the festival. The setting is “perfect for this celebration, says ROD member Diane Proctor.

“It all began right on this spot in Concord 249 years ago,” she says.

Local organizations will provide opportunities to learn about the environment, immigration, civil liberties, racial justice, women’s health, LBGTQ+ rights, voting, antisemitism, and more social justice issues.

Participating groups include ROD, Concord Indivisible, Concord250, the League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle, COAR (Communities Organizing Against Racism), the Immigration Justice Task Force, Concord Prison Outreach, Stop Private Jet Expansion, Kerem Shalom, and Mothers Out Front. The Concord Bridge is also participating.

A polar bear pleads for the environment at last year’s festival. Courtesy photo

Entertainment and engagement

Compared to last year’s festival, “This year’s celebration will offer even more fun and opportunities for engagement,” Van Deusen says. The festival will feature games, arts and crafts, ice cream, and a food truck and be “a treat for the whole family,” he adds.

Young visitors can try a bean bag toss, create American flag windsocks, and draw sidewalk art. Anna Huckabee Tull and Mickey Zibello will provide live music. 

On Friday, ahead of the festival, the church will host “An Evening of Ideas on Democracy.”

Massachusetts ACLU Political Director Whitney Taylor and Virginia Kase Solomon, president and CEO of Common Cause will appear in person. 

David Pepper, author of “Saving Democracy: A User’s Manual for Every American,” will speak via Zoom, and Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge who built her career around defending women’s rights and civil liberties, will appear on video.

Proctor emphasizes that the festival “isn’t a political candidate event” and that democracy “is not a partisan issue.” 

Van Deusen agrees.

“We want all those who care about our democracy to attend,” he says.  

The Democracy Festival will take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the grounds of First Parish in Concord at 20 Lexington Road. In case of rain, the event will move indoors. “An Evening of Ideas on Democracy” will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at the Parish Hall.