The Summit Street Unity Festival is roaring back with music, food and family activities after a year break from the coronavirus pandemic sullied last year’s plans.
The festival, which is a revitalization of the original Summit Street Festival, takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday on Summit Street.
Organizer Rose Martin said the festival celebrates the rich history of the area, which was a stop on the historic Chitlin Circuit that brought Black performers throughout the nation.
“There used to be 37 clubs on this street,” Martin said. “It was everything. ... This was the blues, and now they are gone, but we still carry on the legacy.”
Martin said she was excited for the festival and hopes it completes its goal of bringing all the area communities together.
Organizer Sheilar Conerly-Pickens said there will be all genres of music including gospel, blues, R&B, soul and country.
The lineup includes Mr. Sipp, The Every Day People Band, Minister Sandra Smith, The Soul Consolators, Tee Burns & Dedicated, Javolle Singletary, Latrell Knight, King Icy, and the Society Hill Missionary Baptist Church Praise team.
Conerly-Pickens said the line up was meant to hone in on mostly local acts to showcase Southwest Mississippi’s hidden talent.
“We want our artists hear to actually promote themselves because a lot of people don’t know them,” she said.
The festival will start with a parade at 11 a.m. and will celebrate voting rights activist Birdie Walker, who turned 102 in August, and the students who were involved in the Burglund High school walkouts in October 1961.
The committee said history and education were a big part of this year’s festival, with organizer Kevin Brown setting up a kids zone that his full of activities focused on teaching the history of Summit Street, Burglund and McComb.
“It is an engagement opportunity for the kids. We wanted to do something specialized for the kids,” Brown said. “There will be an entry point and they will be introduced to different concepts through organizations in the area.”
There will be an activity booklet for each child and every booth will provide a stamp, if a child completes all of the activities and earns their stamps then they will receive a gift bag.
“We want them to take something away from this,” he said. “All the activities are Burglund-specific. Everything in this area is something we want to highlight because sometimes we overlook it. We want to introduce them to some things that are already here and give them a different perspective of the community.”
Pickens said she is excited for Saturday and reminded those interested in attending to bring lawn chairs.
Festival committee president Torium Brown he heard stories of the old Summit Street Festival and heard about the history of Summit Street and Burglund and felt it was the perfect opportunity to get involved and better the community.
“Anytime you have a chance to unite the community, I am all for it,” he said. “There are a lot of things happening in the community that we really can’t change, but we can influence.”