CAMDEN — Camden Village Council agreed to partner with a local theatre to organize a “family-friendly summer festival” in Camden during its bi-monthly meeting Thursday, Aug. 6. Polly Heinkel, Assistant Director of the Cincinnati-based American Legacy Theatre, suggested partnering with the village to secure a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Along with matching funds raised by theatre personnel, the grant would fund a festival centering on historical connections to the Underground Railroad in Camden, according to Heinkel.
Heinkel suggested the festival could take place during Summer 2022, either on the streets or at Waterworks Park in Camden.
“It would encourage people to come and experience the town for a day,” Heinkel said, stating that those who attend such events typically spend an average of around $30 per person at local businesses.
In addition, funds collected by charging for admission or vendor registration would go directly to the village, according to Heinkel.
“If it’s successful the first year, we might want to renew for a second year and look at other ways to promote the arts in Camden,” Heinkel said.
According to Camden Archives treasurer Cherry Anderson and president Helen Whitesell, anecdotal stories related by local residents cite one house on N. Main Street and two homes on Camden-College Corner Road as way stations on the Underground Railroad, though no official documentation of this could be found in the archives.
The location of the latter two homes would make sense, however, according to Anderson, as Camden-College Corner could have served as a less-traveled route between known Underground Railroad hubs in nearby West Elkton and Fairhaven.