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Performing arts festival to benefit new food pantry in West View

| Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Oldies band Johnny Angel and the Halos
Oldies band Johnny Angel and the Halos

To help start its food pantry for West View residents, Ridgewood Church is collaborating with the borough to serve a fun-filled day of live music, food, games and art on Sept. 6 at Bronx Field.

The Performing Arts Festival will run from noon to 8 p.m. at the field along Center Avenue, near Bronx Avenue.

Nine local bands or solo acts — including hip-hop artists Myztery and Sneek; alternative rock band Pet Clinic; and rap artist Made Sacred — will perform throughout the afternoon and early evening. Christian music artists and acoustic acts also will take the stage. Oldies band Johnny Angel and the Halos will close the festival from 7 to 8 p.m.

“We'll do a lot of jamming. We'll be doing things off the cuff,” said Jack Hunt of Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood, also known as Johnny Angel.

Admission to the festival is the donation of a nonperishable food item that can be used to stock the shelves of the new food pantry at the church, 131 Ridgewood Ave., West View.

The Rev. Chris Hezlep, lead pastor of the Assembly of God church, initiated the concept of a food pantry there because he understands there is a need in the community.

“No one should go to bed hungry,” said Hezlep, 40, of Ross Township.

The pantry is set to open the week after the festival, with the hope that food collected from the event will be enough to stock the shelves.

Church member Judy Zapf of Bellevue will be employed part time to run the pantry, and part of her job will be to discern which families qualify for assistance.

“We want to keep it simple for now,” Hezlep said. “At first, we'll offer just the basic, nonperishable foods.”

He envisions a food pantry resembling a mini grocery store, in which families in need can browse and pick the items they like.

Once the church can purchase the necessary equipment, Hezlep hopes to offer additional items, such as meat and produce.

Meanwhile, the church is spending $15,000 on the festival, according to Ron Moreno, 56, of West View, a member of Ridgewood Church who is helping coordinate the event.

But Hezlep is happy to offer the event free to the public.

“Jesus' love is free, so what we're doing is free. We want to show the love of God in a practical way,” he said.

The festival will include face painting, balloon sculpting, tattoo artists, an inflatable train and bounce house and a video game arcade, Moreno said. Several local painters and a photographer will demonstrate and display their work.

Free hot dogs, cotton candy and funnel cakes also will be available. Other fare — including a pig and corn roast, pizza, and chicken — will be available from local vendors for a nominal cost.

Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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