The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Editorials

June 12, 2014

Editorial: Give downtown a chance for Black Expo Summer Festival

Every year at this time, there are reminders to local residents about the value of Anderson Black Expo Summer Festival activities.

As one of the chapters created through Indiana Black Expo, the local unit celebrates the African-American community with a prayer walk, a parade and entertainment, among other events.

If attended by a cross-section of all races, the events can be a cultural and rewarding experience. In a perfect world, this might be a stimulus for racial reconciliation.

Most years, the events center around Jackson Park, a west side park that is near to a large percentage of the black population. This year, the events have been moved to Anderson Town Center at 12th and Meridian streets. The reasons vary but include the explanation that costs have risen for city-supplied materials such as a stage.

Suffice it to say that grumblings have been heard about the relocation to a seemingly smaller site. The chief complaint: it is farther away from the homes of those who regularly participate in the festival. Why come downtown, some might say, when there's a park closer to participants?

Those concerns should not be dismissed.

However, this might be a chance to help turn downtown into a central gathering place.

In 2012, hundreds of people came to the Walking Man Festival that ended a creative art project. Last weekend, Town Center Park hosted an extremely well-attended debut of the Anderson Brewfest.

The seeming lack of retail and dining establishments doesn't keep people from coming downtown when there's a reason to gather.

And there are few better reasons to gather than Anderson Black Expo. There's much to see and do. The festival begins at 5 p.m. tonight with live entertainment at 8 p.m. The parade is set for noon Saturday. And the YMCA — located next to the park — is partnering for a health fair at 2 p.m. Saturday. Along with entertainment Saturday, look for a presentation by the Freetown Village performers. The Gospel Extravaganza will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

The festival is rich in culture. It can also be rich in reaching others throughout Anderson. Perhaps this spot may become more central for organizers.

Let's see how this year works at the downtown site and evaluate the response.

And let's also hope people don't use the new location as excuse to stay away from a valuable city asset.

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