FRANCONIA — Last year was the first Hope Festival.
Then came this year and the second one.
“We know that the last nine months have been incredibly stressful, have been really frustrating for a lot of people, and so we really just want to offer a fun day for the community to come out and get to know each other, to have some fun, as well as if people are struggling, to reach out and get connected to resources that can help them,” said Martha Detweiler, co-chair of the event that will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 in the Franconia Mennonite Church parking lot.
The family-friendly event, which is organized by Sweatshirt of Hope, includes speakers, music, a touch a truck and non-profit organizations offering help with a variety of needs, she said.
There are also some new additions.
“This year, specifically because of Covid, we are doing a job fair and we are also doing a food distribution,” Detweiler said. “We have a thousand food boxes that we're gonna be distributing.”
The food boxes will be distributed free with no questions asked, she said. The distribution is in partnership with Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Souderton and Garden of Health food bank, she said.
The job fair is sponsored by Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce and Clemens Food Group, event information says.
“We have a lot of children's activities,” Detweiler said. “Everything is free. The food is free. The entertainment is free.” Children's entertainment includes a Marian & Friends puppet show at noon, she said.
The event is also a chance to thank first responders and get to know them on a personal level, she said.
Officers from the Souderton, Telford, Lower Salford and Franconia police departments will be on hand.
“They're just passionate about serving the community,” Detweiler said.
This year's event will also have a biker section, she said, “so there's gonna be some loud rumbles part way through the day.”
Another new addition will be “Uncomfortable Conversations.”
That will be break-out sessions in smaller, more intimate settings with speakers sharing their personal stories, Detweiler said.
“We have a lady sharing her story of adoption. We have a police officer who's sharing about what really happens in our town and our community,” she said. “We have somebody talking about sexual addiction. We have somebody talking about their time in prison and how they were saved.”
All the Hope Festival activities will be outdoors, Detweiler said.
“Everything's gonna be in tents, open-air tents or just out on the blacktop,” she said. The restrooms will be the only part that is inside, she said.
Another addition because of the pandemic will be a virtual event Friday night. The virtual event, as well as additional information on the Hope Festival, can be accessed through the Hope Festival Facebook page or www.sweatshirtofhope.org.
“We really just want to help each other out and connect to the community,” Detweiler said.