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Powwow

From left to right: grandsons Eli Thetford, 13, Reid Thetford, 15, with their grandfather, Larry Thetford dance during a multi-tribal circle dance at last year's Calico Dancers Good Time Pow Wow. The three are Crow Nation descendants and wore Southern Straight Dance outfits.

MOREAU — The Calico Dancers Good Time Powwow is back on for the Fourth of July weekend at Harry J. Betar Jr. Recreational Park.

And, in essence, the group will be allowed to do almost everything they have been doing.

But now it’s all in writing.

“We put some structure around this, for the benefit of all future boards and that event,” said Town Board member Alan Van Tassel.

The board worked out a written agreement on exactly where powwow participants can park and camp, who can use electricity and water, and how much they’ll pay for it. The hours and the “scope of the event” are also spelled out. The town will staff the park all night long out of concern for safety and security issues, since participants camp at the park overnight.

“We’re going to have to staff additional resources, including second and third shift,” Van Tassel said.

In the past, workers apparently left one park gate unlocked, and the group announced it over a loudspeaker so that campers knew how to leave if they needed to get out during the night.

The unlocked gate became an open secret, and teenagers often entered through it and drove around on ATVs in the middle of the night, according to powwow members.

Workers will patrol the park at night, checking for colored tags that signify who is allowed to camp overnight and who is allowed to use electricity or water.

“There’s no tolerance for things we saw, like taking the cover off the electrical panel,” Van Tassel said.

The workers will use a map to make sure no one is camping in out-of-bounds areas, including on the playing fields and in the forest.

“The staff will know where people are supposed to be,” he said.

The town will charge a “nominal fee” of $25 for water or electricity access, Supervisor Todd Kusnierz said. The fee should cover the $400 to $500 in additional payroll costs to staff the event, he said.

The fee also solves the problem of food vendors, who need water and power and have always used it in the past without official permission.

“I thought it was a great compromise,” he said.

Van Tassel said he was also pleased by the new rules.

“This year will kind of be our test,” he added. “I think we can have a good, clean event.”

Powwow members did not speak publicly on the dispute. They issued a press release simply announcing that the 44th annual Calico Dancers Native American Festival and Pow Wow would run from July 5 at 4 p.m. to July 7 at 5 p.m. It is a free, family-friendly event and the public is welcome.

Dancers perform many traditional Native American dances to traditional drums. There is also a Native American fashion show, tepees on display and other educational events.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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