Stone Soul Festival Celebrates Springfield’s Vibrant African-American Culture
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thousands of people anticipated the big return of the three-day Stone Soul Festival to Springfield’s Blunt Park, and the community came from all over to take part in this community event.
Some say this festival is the last hurrah of summer! Many are excited to celebrate after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. It’s an easy day to eat, greet and meet new and old relatives and friends.
Christopher Scott, the event coordinator, told 22News, “After COVID, it’s going to be a big event because people haven’t been out for a few years, so we’re really expecting a big turnout.”
The Stone Soul Festival began in 1989 as a community reunion picnic aimed at bringing the Mason Square community together. Since then, it has grown into New England’s largest African-American festival that celebrates and embraces Springfield’s vibrant community.
“It’s nice to come back because, you know, for two years we were pretty much closed, we weren’t doing this type of activity,” said Wayman Lee, president of local nonprofit CREW. . “So now we’re doing it and we can help more people in the community by doing what we’re doing now.”
The festival offers family-friendly activities, local entertainment, food and culturally enriching performances.
Drew Keatonel, secretary of CREW said, “Springfield’s makeup with black and brown people, if you look at Springfield, is almost 60, 70 percent. It’s very important for us to express ourselves, and we can do that through cultural events. It is an expression of the community itself.
The Stone Soul Festival reunites the community with former Springfield residents who return Labor Day weekend to renew acquaintances and relationships in Blunt Park decade after decade.
“Every part of the event is about seeing people I haven’t seen from across the country in years.” said Scott. “We will have the opportunity to meet and greet people we haven’t seen in a long time, to mend old wounds and to heal.”
This three-day festival continues over the weekend with more food vendors, local artists, and even a gospel concert during the Sunday picnic!