September 26, 2009 9:26:00 PM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival chair Kabir Karriem has a good feeling about this year''s big event Oct. 1-3.
"I really believe that with the artists we''re bringing in, we''re expecting to exceed any size crowd we''ve had before," he said.
One reason for that prediction is headliners K-Ci and JoJo -- brothers Cedric and Joel Hailey. The North Carolina natives many know from late ''90s and 2001 hits like "All My Life," "Tell Me It''s Real," "If You Think You''re Lonely Now" and "Crazy," will take the stage Saturday, Oct. 3, about 8 p.m.
The Grammy-nominated and American Music Award winners will entertain with lush ballads and edgier repertoire in what was once one of Columbus'' bustling African-American business and entertainment districts. The chart-topping duo joins other artists including Jeff Floyd, Karen Wolfe and the Jous Band.
"We want to make this a party with a purpose," Karriem said. "We don''t charge admission, but we are asking people to bring canned foods and non-perishable items for a holiday food drive. If everybody brings something, we can make a real difference."
Weekend festivities begin with a pre-party Thursday at the Master Hosts Inn. The outdoor festival kicks off Oct. 2 on Seventh Avenue with live music from 6-9 p.m.
On the evening of Oct. 3, festival organizers will publicly honor three local residents with Heritage Awards, showing appreciation to individuals who, Karriem said, have exemplified extraordinary community service.
Honorees are Vanessa Carter, owner of Carter Funeral Home; Bobby Holiday, program director and disc jockey for Cumulus Broadcasting''s'' Mix 106; and Billy Wayne White, a longtime volunteer youth athletics coach. The recipients will be recognized at approximately 7 p.m., according to Karriem.
Bring the family
"Things will be going on all through the day Saturday," Karriem stated. "We start with a ceremony at 10 a.m., and gospel starts at 11 a.m. We have a free Kidsville, with a WCBI Kids News booth and children''s activities from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., a karate demonstration, The Commercial Dispatch barbecue contest and more."
In its heyday, the Queen City Hotel on Seventh Avenue hosted such entertainment royalty as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fats Domino, B.B. King and Little Richard. The landmark was demolished in 2007, but music has always remained an important element of the festival.
Live blues and R&B music begins Saturday with Wolfe at about 4:30 p.m., followed by Floyd and, later, K-Ci & JoJo.
"This event serves as a homecoming for people from all across the country," said Karriem. "I just thank the people who continue to support it. These festivals are quite expensive; we couldn''t do it without them.
"This event is for the entire family. If you''ve never been to one, we want you to come out, relax, enjoy the food and sounds of music and let the kids play. It''s a good event for the entire community."
For more information about the Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival, go to www.7thavenueheritagefestival.com, or contact Karriem at 662-549-4314.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.