Sunday, August 15, 2010

Visitors to JC’s Umoja Festival impressed by display of unity


NET News Service

When Carolyn Abbot, a native of Washington, D.C., began talking about downtown Johnson City and the 14th annual Umoja Festival, the word “impressive” kept popping up.

The unity-themed festival was a nice surprise for Abbott, who was in town Saturday visiting her daughter and other family members.
“This is not something I was really expecting to be perfectly honest with you. I’m impressed with how everybody’s getting along. There is actually a lot of unity,” she said.
Abbott found out the festival was taking place and thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce her grandson, Jaiden Miles, to different cultures.
“African-American events are big in Washington D.C. ... So I wanted to come down and see what it was like. Brought my grandson down so that he could get a feel of African heritage,” she said.
The eclectic music lineup, with everything from gospel to bluegrass, and the laid-back atmosphere of the festival was a welcome change of pace for Abbott.
For Abbott, diversity amongst the crowd was another aspect of the Umoja Festival that stood out. “There is no people separating. It’s really showing the unity and everyone getting together and getting a good time,” she said.
Despite the searing heat, a steady crowd of people kept the downtown streets filled as the festival celebrated its first year in its new location after spending many years at Freedom Hall.
Set up much like the Blue Plum Festival, Umoja’s new location seemed to be hit with just about everyone.
With the location change and expansion of the festival itself, media relations coordinator Wayne Robertson said this year’s festival was a success.
“A lot of people that’s come to this also came to Blue Plum and they’re familiar with this layout and it helps a lot. I think they really like it and it being down here,” he said. “When you do changes there some things that you forget about ... but we’ve not really had any problems at all. It has been a really lovely festival this year.”

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