Organizers of Ypsilanti's Parkridge SummerFest and Joe Dulin Community Day are working to maintain momentum during COVID-19 by holding the annual event online for the first time.
"We wanted to stay in contact with the community, so that's why we decided to do this," says Washtenaw County Commissioner and Parkridge Summer Fest Committee member Ricky Jefferson. "If we had decided not to do anything, it would have said to them that there's nothing coming. But we wanted to announce it'll be back every year."
SummerFest and Joe Dulin Day were two separate events that combined forces in 2012, since they had similar goals of bringing community members together and sharing resources. The festival, created by and for Ypsi's Southside neighborhood, typically offered food and merchandise vendors, back-to-school giveaways, musical performances, and, through a partnership with the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED), information from dozens of governmental and social service agencies and nonprofits.
The SummerFest committee will host a Facebook livestream event from 2-4 p.m. Aug. 22 with many of the same elements, including live musical performances by three local musicians: John Beverly, ak.a. Mr. B; Alecia Reynolds; and the Bad Boy Blues Band. The First Groove Band will back up all three acts.
The event will start with about 10 minutes of a slideshow featuring local service providers and their resources and events. More presentations about local service providers will be featured between musical sets.
Among the presenters will be Housing Access for Washtenaw County, highlighting eviction prevention and diversion efforts. Ypsilanti Community Schools will also provide an update, and the Washtenaw County Health Department will present on COVID-19 statistics and best practices.
"There will also be an update on how people can receive absentee ballots and an update on census efforts," says Peter Lindeman, communications and policy specialist with OCED.
The event committee always chooses several residents who are active in education, government, or business to honor each year. Festival committee member Bryan Foley says the intention behind those honors is to "give people flowers while they're still alive." The committee had planned to honor local minister Victoria Allen James, but she passed away before the festival, so a separate memorial was held to honor her earlier in August.
This year's honorees will be Mary Louise Foley, a former Ypsilanti police officer; Ypsilanti Mayor Lois Richardson; and Inez Weathers, honored for her beautification efforts in Ypsilanti.
More details and a link to the Facebook livestream are available here.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of OCED.