Colorful banners and flags stood out against Sunday’s vibrant sunny sky as a diverse group of people visited various vendors who set up shop at Saratoga Peace Fair.
The peace fair, held at the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church in Saratoga Springs, is a capstone event for Saratoga Peace Week, which runs until Sept. 27.
Saratoga’s Peace Week coincides with international Peace Week events. Sept. 21 is the United Nations International Day of Peace. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that observation and the 10-year anniversary of the event in Saratoga.
What started as a one-day effort with the peace fair has since blossomed into a week-long event at many different venues and features a variety of programs, including international speakers, musicians, yoga, and art and museum exhibits.
Elizabeth Meehan, who chairs the Saratoga Peace Week organizing committee, said she has seen growth in the programs, with more sponsors becoming involved. This is also the second year they have held a free community lunch.
In particular, the fair is important because it gives people the opportunity to learn more about causes that they can become involved with on a local level.
“Everybody needs to be involved to support peace,” Meehan said on Sunday. “They can start in their own home, community, nation. That’s what this provides. There are so many different people with so many different paths all working for peace.”
“It’s an opportunity for people to take action,” she said.
Vendors at the fair, which included groups such as domestic violence support organization Wellspring, Black Lives Matter, the Saratoga Immigration Coalition, anti-gun group Moms Demand Action, and Saratoga Progressive Action, had various ways for people to become involved with their causes, either through signing petitions, writing letters, or registering to vote.
“Education is part of our goal,” Meehan said. “Educating, motivating, and celebrating.”
For attendee Beth Germano, the fair is a good opportunity for young students to become involved with activism. Germano, who sported a shirt expressing support for commonly marginalized groups, said she was there to show those groups that they will always have an advocate.
“You wear it in solidarity,” she said.
Meehan hopes that, by attending Peace Week events, people can find at least one cause that they would be interested in becoming involved with.
“It’s important for people who maybe have been on the sidelines to get engaged,” she said. “It’s so important to find our commonality. The things that we all care about. We all care about family. We all care about protecting our children. I think that we need to go back to things that we all care about, and have dialogue on that and work together on things that we have in common, and reestablish those bonds, and try to leave the politics on the side.”
And she hopes that when people see all of the groups come together during the fair, they’ll realize that even if it feels like they’re hitting a brick wall in fighting for peace in a country that is politically divided, there are others fighting for the same thing.
“Sometimes you do feel alone,” she said. “It’s important to remember that you aren’t.”