This year, ETSU and the Umoja Cultural Arts Committee teamed up to host the Umoja Festival, which will be celebrating it’s twentieth year on Sept. 2 and 3. The festival will be taking place in downtown Johnson City from 11a.m. to 11p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The festival is meant to be more than music and food, but a celebration of diversity and unity. On Friday, there will be a Latin dance demonstration, a free-style battle and the Shaka Zulu Stilt Walkers from New Orleans. Saturday morning will kick off with the parade at 10 a.m. and musical acts downtown will follow.
Featured acts and entertainment include iHeartMemphis, The Jay Storm Project Band, Kryss Dula and Friends, The Zapp Band, Jordan Copas and more. Food vendors will be present as well as local merchants and artisans who will sell shirts, accessories and other hand-made goods.
The festival was originally planned to have occurred in mid-August, but a partnership with ETSU was made more advantageous by pushing the date back to Labor Day weekend. This will allow more students to take part in the festivities.
Ralph Davis, UMOJA Festival coordinator, hopes that entertainment, diversity and community involvement will attract ETSU students to attend the event.
“The entertainment should be great” said Ralph Davis, coordinator of the festival. “Different events will be showcased, and of course, it’s important for students to be exposed to diversity.”
Davis also said that students might be interested in becoming involved with some of the non-profit organizations that will be present at the festival.
ETSU representatives will be present with services such as health screenings and information booths. The university also plans to assist with entertainment, food and spreading the word to the community.
The Umoja Festival is not only student-friendly, but is family-oriented as well. Kids will have a separate area to play while parents peruse the local merchants and breweries that have set up shop.
“There’s something for everyone at Umoja,” Davis said.