Across the bar, a man fixed an intense, unfriendly stare in Yvon Tatafasa's direction.
A recent immigrant, Tatafasa didn't know to expect the attention that his long, black dreadlocks and brown skin would bring him that day in 2002. He'd simply gone to Dallastown to hear some live music.
Most of the people in the bar were polite, though curious about how a man from Madagascar had ended up in Dallastown. But that one man -- who was ultimately booted on account of his rudeness -- made something abundantly clear to Tatafasa.
Call it hate, prejudice or fear of the unknown. Here, even in 21st-century York County, it still existed.
"Wherever you go, there's always going to be one or two people like that," Tatafasa, 44, said. "To get that fear out is to get to know each other."
A decade later, Tatafasa has co-founded the Take My Hand Project, an initiative that aims to unite the community over racial and ethnic lines, using the universal appeal of music and art. A first-time festival featuring a wide range of musical genres -- from African to country to Latin jazz to hip-hop -- is planned for Saturday in York City's Penn Park.
These days, Tatafasa is perhaps best known as the founder of B-Tropical, a local band that fuses African and Caribbean music styles. He moved here in 2002 after meeting his wife, a York native who was studying abroad in Madagascar.
Future plans: The Take My Hand Project got its official start in January and is in the process of becoming an official nonprofit.
Tatafasa has teamed up with Louis Woodyard, a York City native and fellow musician who said he's seen York make giant strides toward tolerance
and peace. But, he said, there remains a culture of self-segregation that makes Tatafasa's 2002 experience not so unique.
Woodyard, 59, said he'd like to see York City unite more often the way it does on New Year's Eve.
"It seems like everybody's there. All the sub-cultures in the city are there having a good time," Woodyard said. "But that's once a year. We need more of that."
The festival is free and open to everyone, but its organizers are hoping to attract young people especially.
Eventually, the goal is to "be a culture center for everybody," Tatafasa said. The two are looking for a building to house the soon-to-be nonprofit.
The Take My Hand Project is also about saving the youngest generation's exposure to art and music, Woodyard said. Funding cuts are robbing youth of an arts education, he said.
"We need to save the atmosphere of creativity for our young people," he said.
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or email@example.com or on Twitter @ydcity.
About the festival
What: Take My Hand Summer Fest, a first-time festival featuring a diverse lineup of musical acts
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday
Where: Penn Park, 100 W. College Ave., York
Contact: The Take My Hand Project is looking for people, businesses and organizations to partner with. To get involved, contact Yvon Tatafasa at 717-309-4664 or Louis Woodyard at 717-758-0467.