DeaFestival coming to Danville Sept. 3 – Event kicks off KSD 200th anniversary

Published 7:41 am Friday, August 26, 2022

Thousands of people who are deaf or hard of hearing will be coming to Danville on Saturday, Sept. 3 for DeaFestival. It will be held at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College starting at 10 a.m. and will go all day.

The DeaFestival started in Danville in 1998, and has since been in locations all over Kentucky to reach people in different regions. But to kick off the celebration of Kentucky School for the Deaf’s (KSD) 200th anniversary which is happening in 2023, DeaFestival is back in Danville.

The festival is held by the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH) as a one-day awareness event. KCDHH Executive Director Virginia Moore said the event helps teachers, parents, educators, and employers to figure out that deaf individuals can do almost everything except hear.

Email newsletter signup

But the festival is not just for deaf individuals. Everyone in the community is welcome, and the event is free.

The festival will be filled with back-to-back performances and spotlights. A kid’s program will be held from 10 a.m. to noon; spotlights of deaf artists from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and a jam tent from 6 to 8 p.m.

Moore said there is something for everyone, and encouraged people to look on their website to see the full schedule of performances.

The kid’s program has a “This is Me” campaign to teach deaf kids that they are perfect the way they are.

“This encourages deaf and hard of hearing kids to feel good about themselves, and it also tells parents this is who we are,” Moore said.

The children’s program will also be interactive; artists will teach kids how to do magic tricks, hula hoop, juggle, and other things.

The festival will also feature all types of deaf visual artists and performers, both in question and answer panels, and performing acts.

One KSD graduate who is a successful actress will be at the festival. Sandra Mae Frank has played Wendla from Deaf West’s Spring Awakening, and is currently starring as Dr. Elizabeth Wilder, the doctor who’s deaf, in NBC’s hit drama New Amsterdam.

Another performer is Antonietta “Ballerina Goddess” Alfano, who is a nationally renowned aerial circus performer, professional dancer and entertainer. She is the only Deaf Rope Artist/Aerialist in the world.

There will also be deaf rappers like Sho’Roc, Sean Forbes, and Warren “WAWA” Snipe, who signed the National Anthem in 2021, and performed the halftime show with Sean Forbes in ASL in 2022, and has acted in Black Lightening and Fear the Walking Dead TV series.

Moore explained that many deaf performers can’t always be in other festivals because communication is always an issue.

She also explained that many people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Kentucky are isolated, sometimes in very rural areas, and don’t get to interact with other deaf individuals.

“We have parents come in, see all the different things people are doing … and they get so excited realizing that their son or daughter is going to grow up to be just fine,” Moore said.

There will also be a job fair to bring awareness to employers, and to have deaf individuals apply for jobs.

Moore said that there are more people affected by hearing loss than many people might think. Some statistics she shared include:

• One out of 10 individuals experience hearing loss.

• One out of 3 senior citizens have hearing loss.

• Nearly 700,000 Kentuckians have a hearing loss, according to data extrapolated from the 2010 Census as conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and from a 2005 Survey by the National Institutes of Health.

• Hearing loss is the third major health risk in the U.S. behind heart problems and arthritis.

To address concerns with parking, the festival will have a shuttle service that will go all around Danville, with signs for pickups and dropoffs. The DeaFestival website has a map and schedule of the shuttle service, with locations at KSD, the Danville parking garage, and others.

Sign language interpreters will be at the event.