Tuesday, July 16, 2024

4-H Rhapsody in Color, Music, Fine Arts and Lennon’s House Festival Offered Love, Joy and Art

Jacob Goldenberg shows off one of his artisan maple syrup lollipops. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023


The Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta was flooded with creativity, color, song and philanthropy when the 1st Annual 4-H Rhapsody in Color, Music, Fine Arts and Lennon House Festival took place on March 26th.

Art for sale by the 4-H Club. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023

Co-hosted by the 4-H Rhapsody in Color Music and Fine Arts Club and Lennon’s House, a non-profit serving the special needs community, the event featured food trucks, crafts, music, a therapy dog plus much more.

The 4-H Shotwell building housed a diverse group of juried artisans working in several different mediums including pottery, paint, woodwork, clay, beadwork, jewelry and many more.

Crafts for sale by 4-H Club. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023

The 4-H Club offers creative opportunities for its members to explore their artistic endeavors amongst their peers. During the event, live music took place in the adjacent pavilion.

For those wanting to get creative, there were origami lessons by Carlo D’Ambrosi, known more commonly as Mr. D.

Mr. D (Carlo D’Ambrosi) shows off the proper techniques to fold origami. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023.

The day couldn’t have been any nicer as warm weather and beautiful sunshine graced all that participated. Enough magic was present at this event to even conjure up a mermaid.

Mermaid Kita washed ashore at the 4-H festival. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023

Mermaid Kita made her presence known for the entertainment and delight of the kids. People of all ages enjoyed being photographed with the mermaid who entertained guests with her song of the ocean, while her nimble fingers expertly plied a ukulele.

The 4-H group extended an invitation to Lennon’s House, a cooperative run by parents who are striving to create rich, meaningful experiences for their adult children with special needs, to participate as well, making this an event that helped fundraise for two worthy causes. Lennon’s House is non-profit, TRIBE Cooperative spearheaded by D. Erica Phillips, in honor of her son Lennon Alcock, as well as several other “specially abled” young adults.

D. Erica Phillips shows donated items for sale to eager patrons. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023

It is her wish to create a house of supportive living for her son as well as other specially abled adults to live and thrive together. The unique feature that sets a house of supportive living apart is the intended goal to support the unique and varied interests and lifestyle of each individual.

Their website shows that an annual camping trip is planned for this September. True to form, the site also promotes the hilarious and worthwhile movie, “Champions,” currently in theaters featuring the actor Woody Harrelson having to perform community service by coaching a group of disabled individuals, who are the actors as well, adopt basketball skills to qualify for the Special Olympics. It is not easy nor cost-free.

In an aside, all should see this film for a new appreciation for this community and the impact of “boo boo words.”

Philips recalled a tender memory she had with her son and something that always stuck with her after he shared some deep feelings. This super mom wants to change the name special needs to special stars, after one day Lennon commented, “I feel stuck between two worlds. I wonder what special means?” His mother replied, “Everyone is special.”

D. Erica and her son, Lennon Alcock, share a hug at the festival. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023

Fundraising is no easy task, and it takes many people to achieve. Phillips has taken a community driven approach with the creation and mission of her nonprofit, choosing to work collectively with parents of the specially abled, or whom Phillips now calls special stars.

Lennon’s house members also give back to the community and have donated to many other charitable organizations. For more information about Lennon’s House, visit www.lennonshouse.org OR call 973-997-0116.

The day concluded with a drum circle, led by Lennon’s House board member, Christopher Phillips. The 4-H kids, Lennon’s House family and friends and festival attendees ended the day in song together.

Working together is a beautiful thing.

A drum circle took place to celebrate the day. Photo by J. Major, 4/2023

Desiree Dunn
Desi L. Dunn, Writer
Managing Editor at Desiree L. Dunn, LLC

Born & educated in NY with an Environmental Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Desi's family resides in Hardwick with a young teen and several spoiled pets. Considering northwest Jersey to be a true gem, her commitment to the people and environs is exemplified by the many different jobs she's had - municipal & county official, election clerk, open space plan writer, newspaper & radio journalist, grant writer, events coordinator and farm market manager as well as retail, waitressing, archaeological digger and once for a short while in a very huge warehouse.

Her favorite was as a reporter for many years with the Recorder newspapers, Blairstown Press, Paulinskill Chronicle, Gannett publications plus WNTI Public Radio producing public affairs and human interest stories on-air.

She often has her camera ready to capture interesting people and events. She's thrilled to now serve as RVE's Managing Editor, helping fellow writers hone their skills and show you the issues as well as treasures that exist in North Warren, through their eyes.