The 32nd annual Farish Street Heritage Festival hits every note on the legacy lineup with blues, old school R&B and gospel livening up the historic street.
Presented by Lee King Productions, the Saturday festival brings SugarFoot's Ohio Players, Eddie Cotton, Zac Harmon, Cupid, 601 and comedian Virgil "Big V" Walker to the main stage for a celebration with all-ages appeal.
Gospel, a longtime tradition that was missing last year because of festival finances, returns to the mix this year with a special edition of Hallelujah 95.5's Homegrown Live at Central United Methodist Church. Homegrown Live is 4-5:30 p.m., with more gospel music continuing until about 8:30 p.m.
Castro Coleman and Highly Favored, Da Minista, Dynamic Golden Stars, the Rev. Mike Evans and Men of the Cross, Ashford Sanders, the Hobbs Brothers and Joshua Howard are among the performers.
"Gospel ... rounds it out, it gives it the complete gamut," says Lance Fuller, host of Homegrown Live. "Gospel adds hope, inspiration, uplift and just an all-around good feeling to the festival, where people can not only enjoy whatever they like - blues, R&B, whatever - they can hear the good news of the gospel as well."
The fun gets an early start Friday with a free pep rally for W.C. Gorden Classic Football game between Jackson State University and Delta State University. Gates open at 4 p.m. and Jackson State's Sonic Boom of the South fuels the revelry, starting at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, gates open at 4 p.m., with food and merchandise vendors, the Kiddie Cottage and gospel music. Main stage entertainment kicks off at 7:30 p.m.
In a partnership with the Mississippi College School of Law, the festival uses the school's parking lot for its main stage entertainment.
Festivalgoers will see some progress on the long-anticipated entertainment district in the area, and a portion of the street is fenced off because of construction. Farish at Amite Street is blocked and festival entrance gates will be located at Hamilton and Farish (near the Alamo Theater) and at Griffith and Farish.
A festive invitation is open to all.
"We are working toward a very diverse festival," says festival chairwoman Alberta Ross-Gibson, "because if the entertainment district plans to prosper and to be successful, it's going to take a committed community. It's going to take a commitment from the residents of the city of Jackson to, first, feel proud of your area and to support your area.
"Come down on Farish Street, see it for yourself. Soon, we'll have an entertainment district." The festival has committed to keep awareness, the history and spirit of the area, once an economic and entertainment hub, alive.
Early visitors Saturday can take advantage of festival food and merchandise vendors and the Kiddie Cottage, as well as some of the state's gospel greats.
Cupid is also performing with JSU's Sonic Boom of the South Band at the football game and organizers hope football fans will follow him to the festival.
"We want everybody on Farish Street doing the Cupid Shuffle. Can you imagine seeing everybody out there, 'To the left, to the left, to the right, to the right, now kick?' " Ross-Gibson says, chuckling. "Just come on and join in with the fun."