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Schenectady festival celebrates the culture and community of immigrants from Guyana

The lure of the United States -- and Schenectady in particular -- is often cheaper housing and better jobs, Mariapain said. And it's not just the Guyanese seeking Schenectady; the city has actually sought Guyanese. Former Schenectady Mayor Al Jurczynski actively recruited Guyanese from the five boroughs of New York to Schenectady, reasoning that they could buy and renovate some of the city's dilapidated homes while also opening businesses.

"In New York City, people were paying a lot of rent, and Mom and Dad were just doing basic jobs," Mariapain said. In Schenectady, meanwhile, foreclosed homes were often being handed to Guyanese immigrants for just $1.

Onkar Singh left New York for Schenectady three years ago. But in his case, cheap housing and dreams of opening his own business weren't the lure.

"I lived in Queens for a number of years," he said. "I don't need the hustle and bustle of a big city."

Leaving the Big Apple behind was hard in at least one way, though: In Queens, Singh regularly played cricket, a game that is hugley popular in Guyana.

So, in 2006, Singh helped form the Schenectady Softball Cricket Association, whose teams, made up largely of Guyanese, play on Sundays at Central Park.

The fun day, which Singh will emcee, kicks off with cricket at 9 a.m. There will be other games throughout the day, most of them catering to kids and requiring few bells and whistles, like potato sack and three-legged races.

"We don't have Toys R Us in Guyana," Mariapain said. "People learn to do things with just homemade stuff."

There will be dancing and music, as well as a curry competition. Curry is a staple in Guyanese cooking thanks to the country's ties to India, but Mariapain noted Guyanese cuisine differs somewhat from traditional Indian fare.

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