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ComFest returns to Goodale Park this weekend

Community Festival goers congregate in Goodale Park.
Community Festival

Columbus’ Community Festival returns Friday to celebrate its 50th anniversary in Goodale Park.

ComFest got its start as part of the anti-war movement in the early 1970s that rejected corporate sponsorship and promoted community organizations, alternatives to mainstream lifestyles, social justice and collective action.

“In May of 1972, a group of political activists, artists, musicians, craftspeople, local business owners and plenty of dreamers came together as a community on 16th Avenue across from Ohio State University to organize, advocate, celebrate and seek an alternative to the endless wars, military conscription, racial and social injustice, unsustainable consumerism, environmental degradation and a misguided ‘me first’ mentality that permeated late 20th century American life,” states organizer Marty Stutz in the festival program.

Mimi Morris said the appetite for ComFest’s alternative means of living and social awareness appeals to people looking for something more from society.

“When you walk onto the site, it's like coming home. Something inside you relaxes and said, 'All right, this is how it's supposed to be.' And that's what we want to do, is create pretty much a full surround, immersive idea of what an alternative world could feel like,” Morris said.

This year’s theme of '50 years of giving peace a chance' includes music on five stages and a street-fair setting with booths for arts and crafts, workshops and local beer.

There will be plenty of material available for people interested in learning more about the issues the organizers are focused on, but the environment offers more than intellectual insight, Morris said.

“It's the atmosphere that all of that together creates, all of these people trying so many different ways to make the world a better place,” Morris said.

It’s a place where those interested in community action can connect, said Michael Gruber, who produces of the ComFest program guideand is head of its safety committee.

"I mean, our roots are coming from community organizations forming the festival and wanting to keep that spirit and purpose going, that the activist community in Columbus is vibrant,” Gruber said.

The 2022 ComFest program states the original festival organizers, “sought an alternative pathway to building and nurturing their community, their families and their lives. They believed that ordinary people could weave a present and future built upon progressive values, cooperation, self-determination and collective action.”

Visit comfest.com for more information about the festival.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.