SCHENECTADY — People who came to Grout Park School during the day on Sunday arrived to find music playing, cricket games in full swing and food cooking.
The eagerly awaited annual celebration of Guyanese culture featured activities that were embraced by people both within the Guyunese culture and outside of it.
Guyana Day started in 2003 as a small cultural celebration organized in Central Park by the Guyanese community, said festival organizer Steve Ram.
There was a two- to three-year hiatus before the festival started back up four years ago, this time in Grout Park.
The event on Sunday featured musical performances from local and professional artists as well as a fashion display. There was also a 2013 Kia Rio raffled off, along with other prizes, with each raffle ticket bringing in $10.
There was also a bounce-house for younger children, as well as a stage that was being set up during the early afternoon for musical performances later in the day.
The Guyanese population in the city began to grow in the early 2000s as the immigrants from the South American nation were welcomed in by former Mayor Al Jurczynski.
In a press release about Guyana Day, Ram said the Guyuanese population in Schenectady has continued to grow under Mayor Gary McCarthy, which he said has contributed to the growth of the city’s economy. Even people from outside Schenectady come to celebrate Guyana Day, he said.
McCarthy said the Guyanese community has had a positive impact on the city.
“We’re proud to have the Guyanese community be part of the Schenectady fabric,” McCarthy said. “They have made an investment here and we continue to look to work with them as part of all of the good things happening in Schenectady.”
The festival is meant to celebrate that migration into the city and the culture that has come with it, but it’s also meant to invite the community that welcomed them to celebrate with them, and to give others a chance to participate in and learn about the culture.
Cricket games started early and were held throughout the day, with dozens of people participating.
Families came out to support their teams, sporting team shirts.
Anil Makashwar was taking a break from his game in the afternoon, just as the festival activities began to kick into gear.
The game, he said, was going to start again soon, and others would follow throughout the festival.
“We’re playing all day,” he said. “We’re getting ready to play again right now.”