Record-Breaking Attendance at Last Week’s African American Festival
The record-breaking crowd of almost 600,000 people who passed through Baltimore’s African American Festival July 2-3 was treated to stellar performances from Charlie Wilson, Chrisette Michele, J. Holliday, Estelle, Wish and others.
“I want to thank Shelonda Stokes and her team at greiBO Entertainment for making the 2011 African American Festival a success,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “In less than four months, the greiBO team put together a phenomenal event which showcased the rich culture and heritage of Baltimore’s African American community.”
Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown participated in the processional and ribbon-cutting which marked the festival’s official opening, and included a fly-over by the NavAir and a tribute to some of Baltimore’s heroes. “What more appropriate way to celebrate Independence Day than by honoring the families of those Baltimore residents who we have lost in Iraq or Afghanistan,“ Brown said.
Among the festival goers were Gwen and Lee Russell from Toledo Ohio. “We came Saturday night just to see Chrisette Michele and our intention was to go home Sunday morning.” Lee said, “However we were so enthralled by all the vendors and other performers we wound up spending the entire day Sunday at the festival. I’ve never seen a festival so well organized and have so many things to do for people of all ages. We will be back next year.”
Stokes expressed her appreciation, “There were so many talented and dedicated people who worked tirelessly to make this festival a success. From performers, to volunteers, everyone gave 110 percent. I want to particularly thank Mayor Rawlings-Blake for allowing us the honor of producing this year’s festival, and our 31 sponsors and media partners. I sincerely appreciate your support.”
Walmart was one of the festival sponsors. Najja Thumbutu, Walmart’s Regional Merchandise Manager said, “Walmart stores have a large assortment of fresh food and produce, and we provided samples of that very product to anyone who visited the Walmart display tent”. Between Saturday and Sunday Walmart distributed approximately 4600 lbs of fruit.
The African American Festival provided outstanding opportunities for vendors. Margie Hicks, owner of Make a Difference, sold custom-made hats. “The festival far exceeded my expectations in every way,” Hicks said. “I have been selling at festivals across the country for years and I have never been so successful. We sold our entire inventory by Saturday night and I had to bring in other merchandise for Sunday. The best part of the festival was the people who attended. Everyone was pleasant and having fun and I had a sense that each of them felt ownership towards the festival. I’ve never felt vibes like that before. I will definitely be back next year with double the inventory.”
John Rodrigues, National Account Manager, SoftSheen-Carson, said, “The African American Festival was a great opportunity to touch our core consumers with hair care products addressing their specific hair needs whether relaxed or natural. It was a great forum to discuss the latest Ethnic Hair Care trends and showcase the new products in the marketplace. We ran out of coupons in four hours, and we gave out about 10,000 free products. We are already thinking about next year’s festival and how to have a much bigger presence.”