The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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September 1, 2013

SLIDESHOW | What the multiple Ethnic Fest venues can offer

— Although St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church and Resurrection Roman Catholic Church remain the undisputed epicenter for Cambria City Ethnic Festival, popular venues at each end of Chestnut Street give festival-goers reasons to explore.

Now in its fourth year of participating, Venue of Merging Arts brings an eclectic mix of music genre to its Third Avenue stage.

And new this year, St. Columba Pub has brought “A Little Corner of Ireland” back to the corner of Chestnut Street and 10th Avenue.

“We want to work together as a community and showcase the talent in this community,” VOMA spokeswoman Karen Mesaros said. “A lot are doing original music.”

The VOMA stage is the Ethnic Festival’s busiest, with six acts stepping up to the microphones on Saturday and seven more on tap today.

“It’s not something you will hear on the radio,” Mesaros said. “We have blues, jazz, gospel, rock, country and indie.”

VOMA found time to share its stage Saturday with the nearby Bottle Works because it was a better venue for a dance troupe, board member Mary Jo Berarone said.

Seven blocks up Chestnut Street, green dominates the scene as Alternative Community Resource Program and Our Lady of Knock Cambria County Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians salute the Irish Catholic culture that founded the former St. Columba Church and school, Bill McKinney of the Hiberians said.

St. Columba Pub grew out of the ACRP’s small Irish music event at last year’s Ethnic Festival.

ACRP brought in the performers to call attention to its work to transform the former school building and grounds into a colorful and interactive indoor and outdoor playground.

Hiberians approached the ACRP this year to recreate the St. Columba traditions.

“It’s a great partnership,” McKinney said. “They are very interested in the community. They are very interested in kids. We are very interested in the community and interested in the traditions and history of St. Columba.”

Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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