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Published: Wednesday, 9/12/2007

Temperance fest celebrates unique identity

BY BENJAMIN
ALEXANDER-BLOCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - The annual festival in downtown Temperance began as local residents' attempt to re-establish a downtown district and advertise their village's unique identity within Bedford Township.

"We formed four years ago in an effort to revitalize downtown," said Michele Sheppard, who heads the subcommittee that organizes the festival each year. "We didn't want to lose our downtown, so we decided to bring people in to show them that it is there."

Since the Temperance Action Committee began the event, it has grown exponentially. Last year there were nearly 80 booths and various activities, from sidewalk sales to free giveaways.

"It started off as just a little idea to bring people in Temperance together, to meet their neighbors, but soon our downtown businesses jumped on the bandwagon and it grew," Mrs. Sheppard said. "At the end of the event, they always say they have never seen that many people in the street."

Downtown Temperance Day will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Carr's Grove Park, throughout downtown, and at local homes and businesses throughout Temperance.

Last year's festival brought in about 1,000 visitors, but organizers expect to get more this year - in part because organizers are looking to attract more male visitors.

"We knew we had lots for the ladies and the kids to do, but we wanted something to bring the men in, something the guys would like," said Gail Keane, another committee member.

A charity car show and swap meet will take place in the parking lot at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 8330 Lewis Ave., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with proceeds going toward the creation of Bedford Veterans Park, an ongoing Temperance Action Committee project to convert the church parking lot into a grassy oasis.

In additional to the new male-oriented event, the day will feature a free petting zoo, pony and helicopter rides, a moonwalk, face painting, balloon-animal-making clowns, local authors signing books, and visitors can even go up in a full-size hot-air balloon by making donations to the Children's Miracle Network, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for children's hospitals across the United States.

Hot-air balloon proceeds will go especially to benefit children at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, according to Debbie Breier, the manager of the local ReMax real estate office sponsoring the activity.

Bedford Township contains three unincorporated villages - Temperance, Lambertville, and Samaria.

In Temperance, residents are working to maintain quiet residential lives while also establishing a downtown that complements it.

In 2003, Temperance's post office moved out of town and the village's main grocery store - Food Town - shut down.

Later in 2003, the township's Economic Development Corp. commissioned a survey of Temperance residents and business people to understand how the village could reinvigorate and reinvent itself.

The Temperance Action Committee was formed on the recommendation of the six-month study. It is an arm of the development corporation, made up of Temperance residents who state their mission as "maintaining the unique identity of Temperance, as distinct from that of Bedford Township as a whole."



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