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Running Water Pow Wow to honor founder; 2-day gathering this weekend at Ridge Ferry Park

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The 28th annual Running Water Pow Wow and Cherokee Homecoming opens at 10 a.m. Saturday in Ridge Ferry Park.

The two-day festival features Native American drumming, dancing, cultural programs, food, arts and crafts. It’s open through 10 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission each day is $8 for ages 13 to 64.

“Kids are free, seniors are free,” organizer Jessi Mantooth said Monday. “Active military and first responders like EMTs and police also get in free.”

Mantooth said there will be 45 vendors this year, and food booths will be offering everything from Indian tacos to traditional fried bread.

“We’re also going to have a chuck wagon, with pintos and cornbread. It’s going to be the real thing,” she said.

“Everything’s authentic,” Mantooth added. “We don’t do fake stuff. Nothing’s imported from China.”

Singers, flute players and a couple of teepees also are planned. The teepees were a crowd favorite in earlier years but haven’t been seen for some time.

While it’s billed as a Cherokee homecoming, Mantooth said it draws participants from a range of Native American tribes.

A remembrance ceremony is scheduled immediately following the 1 p.m. grand entry on Saturday to honor Frank Blair of Rome — a founder of the pow wow and the Native American Preservation Association of Georgia Inc. — who died in January.

Mantooth said he played a major role in organizing each year and his absence is widely felt. The ceremony was still taking shape on Monday.

“So many people want to add things to it,” she said. “There will be a couple of special dances, but we won’t know what it will be until we have it.”

Organizers want as many people as possible to attend the honors for Blair. Mantooth said a posting on their Facebook page — Rome, Ga Running Water Powwow — encourages followers to share the message. Everyone who does will be entered for a free ticket giveaway.

“The whole month before, I give away a ticket a week through contests on our Facebook page,” she said. “Sharing the announcement of Frank’s ceremony is the last one. I’ll draw for that Thursday evening.”

Ridge Ferry Park is at 363 Riverside Parkway.