Cultural activities in Bartow:
There are a lot of culture activities in the area in and around Bartow. First of all, there are countless religious places, especially churches, like the Baptist church and the Methodist church. These two churches were the first religious buildings in Bartow. Today there are over 70 christian religious buildings/churches in Bartow. Also, there are two mosques and a hindu temple in and around Polk County. Bartow has no Jewish Synagogues, but there’s one 12 miles away in Lakeland, called Temple Emanuel, which is a conservative synagogue for the Jewish People. Bartow is in the area, roughly called “the Bible Belt”, so there are many evangalical protestans in the upper part of Florida, which includes Lakeland and Polk County/Bartow. The people in Bartow are very religious, therefore there are a lot of churchgoers and a big christian community. So if you’re religious and interested in religion, you’re right in Bartow or in Florida in general.
Some of the churches are historical buildings, their architecture is sometimes over 100 years old and that’s why they’re not only places to pray, but places that show Bartow’s history and culture, too. A good example for that is the Homeland Methodist Church, which was built in 1878 about three quaters of a mile from her current location and was moved to it’s current location in 1986. It was destroyed by a hurricane, so the steeple of the building is now made of aluminium. The original church had windows without window pane and it’s steeple built of wood. That is why it shows how houses were built at that time and how people used to live in that buildings.
In Bartow there are a lot of festivals and other events, that have a long tradition. Firstly, it should be mentioned that there are four cultural offers at Homeland Heritage Park: the “Cracker Storytelling Festival” in October, the “Good Ol’ Days Festival” in February, “Christmas Notes” in December and the “1880 School Day”. The “1880 School Day” as an aducational program for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. For adults, there are programs ,too, to experience schoollife. These programs take place in the old Homeland school. The “Cracker Storyteller Ferstival” is a festival, where older people with roots from that area (called ‘Crackers’), tell stories about life back in that time. The “Good Ol’ Day Festival” is an event, to remember the “good ol’ days” and to learn about how people used to live.
Apart from that, Bartow offers a few more events to join, like the Halloween Parade and Carnival, where the natives costumize and celebrate their holidays. The “Bloomin’ Arts Festival” is an big art show, which is held in March by the Bartow Art Guild. The “Bartow Community Band” is a volunteer band, performing several shows a year. “Tow Jam” is a live music and entertainemnt event, on the third friday every month. The natives block Main Street at 6 p.m. to start the festival.
Homeland Heritage Park, is a kind of museum where polk county’s history comes alive. This Park officially came into being on March 26th in 1985. Several historical buildings were moved from diffrent parts of polk county to that park. The country was established by pioneers, who wanted to start new lives with their families. They came with only some tools and food and started conquering the land. These homesteaders had different ethnic backgrounds. Finally they realized that working together helps everyone to get a better life and a community started to develope. Especially education for the children and practising their beliefs were very important to them.
So the pioneers built schools, churches and houses. They made rules for their community and voted for one of them to be their leader.
The settlers opened stores like a general store, which sold basic items like food and tools. A doctor and a sheriff joined the community to keep the people well and to stop crimes.
The Homeland School was built in 1878. It’s first teacher Colonel John Snoddy started with five students. Soon the group of students started to grow up to 60 students. The school remained active until 1956 so there are still people in Homeland, who visited the school as children. The Homeland School is on the national register of historical buildings.
The English Log Cabin and Pole Barn was erected by the Englishs in 1888. The cabin was used as a family residence and three children were raised in that house. It’s very small and uncomfortable. Five people lived in a place that’s not as big as a schoolbus. The house is a good example for the way settlers lived and how hard life was at that time. At this place american history comes alive.
Today Homeland Heritage Park is used for picnics, community gatherings, festivals and as a museum.
Cultural activities in Bochum:
Bochum is a great city for discovering culture and historical places in Germany, especially the Ruhrgebiet. Bochum offers many cultural places and locations for festivals such as Bochum Total or Bochumer Musiksommer in the center of the city. Also Bochum is well known for its many museums such as the Eisenbahnmuseum (Railroadmuseum) or the Zeiss Planetarium but it is the most famous for the Bergbaumuseum, where one can discover the history of coalmining in Bochum. One part of the museum is a recovered mine, which is 60 foot below ground. That part is a very impressing and interesting experience.
Starlight Express is the longest remaining musical in Germany. It has it’s own building, where the show takes place regularly. It’s the only Starlight Express building in the world.
Bochum Total is a big festival in the center of the city that offers a lot of acts of several artists. It’s a free festival every year in July. Millions of people visited the popular event so far.
“Weihnachtsmaerkte” (christmas markets) are usually erected before and around christmas in the centers of each city borough. At this events one can buy christmas candy, souvenirs and warm food and liquids, such as “Gluehwein”. They are very interesting for families with children, because the kids love the food and carousels offered at “Weihnachtsmarkt”. At christmas time, the cities are often decorated beautifully with christmas trees and lights.
In Bochum seeing art is a normal part of daily living, because a lot of art projects and sculptures stand in public places. There are several sculptures in municial park. Besides that “Stolpersteine” (‘stumbling stones’) can be found in and around Bochum. They remind the people to the Jews, who were arrested and murdered during the Nazi era.
In Wattenscheid, a borough of Bochum, the “Bergbauwanderweg” (mining trail) leads through a beautiful landscape in Hoentrop and Eppendorf. Along this trail one can find big signs, which teach the history of mining. They were erected at places, where coal mines used to be.
After having compared the cultural offers of Bochum and Bartow one can say that Bochum gives the people a lot more opportunities to experience cultural events than Bartow. There are a few offers in Bartow, but if you are really interested in art and culture, you will not find what you are looking for, because there are no big museums and no art projects. In contrast to that Bochum is a great place to join culture. One can discover art and music at festivals, museums and concerts. People being interested in that are definetly right in Bochum.
Felix Stachon and Emir Camovic