It’s always challenging coming up with a new idea, but the Heritage & Harmony Festival is truly an ideal way of celebrating food, art and music in Flint.
Organized by the Civic Park Historic Business District Association, the three-day 2nd annual event takes place July 2-4 in Civic Park. In many ways, the festival is a multifaceted, multi-pronged celebration of life, communal unity and so many more things. As it’s a street-level affair, this neighborhood festival has its own distinctive character, uniquely borne of the Flint community. Sponsors include the Ruth Mott Foundation, the City of Flint, Community Foundation Greater Flint, TheHUB Flint, Genesee Conservation District, and a host of others.
Collaborative in nature, this event is also important in that it strives to build neighborhood pride and community involvement, according to Heritage & Harmony festival organizer Beverly Davis.
“This subdivision was built by General Motors in the 1900s for its workers,” Davis says. “As General Motors moved away from the city of Flint, this neighborhood struggled to survive as it was dependent on General Motors for survival. The once beautiful, elegant neighborhood became blighted and an eyesore.”
Heritage & Harmony combats this history, Davis adds, by positively moving forward with an event that offers arts, marketing, vendors, resources, family fun and enjoyment to the community.
“This festival brings pride to Civic Park as the community come together sharing resources and networking with each other in a festive, fun atmosphere,” Davis says. “Historic Civic Park Preservation Association was awarded funding through Habitat’s Flint BRAND (Building Resident Action by Neighborhood Design) Program to support the construction of a permanent stage to be used for the Heritage & Harmony Festival.”
Davis notes that Genesee County Land Bank demolished many blighted structures in Civic Park, which resulted in beautification of the community and a drop in crime. Overall, the efforts of the community have proved a potent catalyst in helping to make the Heritage & Harmony Festival a reality, alongside, and with the help of valuable partnerships, such as support from the Ruth Mott Foundation.
“The Heritage & Harmony Festival is really about celebrating our community and bringing neighbors together,” says Tryphena Clarke, Ruth Mott Foundation’s community engagement officer, a sponsor for the Heritage & Harmony Festival. “The three-day event is one of the place-making approaches to revitalizing the historic Civic Park Neighborhood by activating the vacant space along one of the neighborhood’s main thoroughfares and bringing in community organizations and small businesses to engage with the community.”
Additionally, the Civic Park Historic Business District works hard to beautify the area and Habitat for Humanity built a pavilion for the inaugural event in 2018, providing a venue not only for the three days of the festival, but throughout the year for residents and community groups who may want to use it at other times.
“The festival brings residents together for music, resources, and family fun right where they live, and also draws visitors who want to celebrate Flint heritage and learn more about this historic neighborhood,”Clarke says.
Davis contends that while Heritage & Harmony’s 1st Annual Music Festival/Marketplace was a success, there’s plenty to look forward to this year, and it yet, last year’s event built the foundation they hope to continue: “Pride was restored to the residents of Civic Park,” she says.
This year’s festival is expected to get an added boost with the June opening of the new Voice of the Voiceless and Video to the Videoless (V2xV) and Bryan Leach recording studio in the Civic Park neighborhood.
Leach, Polo Grounds Music CEO and RCA Records partner, is credited with discovering major talents such as Lil Jon, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, Yo Gotti, and Pitbull.
The Ruth Mott Foundation-funded V2xV studio, billed as a talent incubator and safe haven, will be operated by the Urban Renaissance Center inside Joy Tabernacle Church.
The festival runs daily from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/heritageharmonyfestival.
Editor’s Note: V2xV will host a Summer Boot Camp for area youth. Headed by Bangtown Productions, the camp will run for eight weeks on Thursday and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. To sign up or for more information call 810-964BANG(2264) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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