City to Host Annual Unity Heritage Festival in Shady Park

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The City of Winter Park will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and promote family heritage during the 20th Annual Unity Heritage Festival, January 16 and 17, at Shady Park in Hannibal Square.

After COVID-19 restrictions limited last year’s event to a virtual presentation, the festival is returning to Winter Park as an in-person celebration. According to Unity Heritage Festival Committee member Robert Knight, the event has grown in its offerings and attendance. Knight expects more than 200 attendees at this year’s festival.

“We started as a one-day event with 50 attendees,” Knight said. “It has grown into a two-day event providing several highlights over the past 20 years to include genealogy projects, silent auctions, heritage awards, and the driving force to make MLK a celebrated holiday in Winter Park.”

The festival kicks off on Sunday, January 16, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. with children’s games, career booths, and food and retail vendors. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Nu Iota Omega Chapter, will host job training and financial literacy events. Entertainment includes Veronica Stephens and Craig Crawford, mime artist Doc J, and local gospel artists from community churches.

Events will continue Monday, January 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include vendors, music al performances by Beautiful Bobby Blackman and Jabari Clay, and a program honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. hosted by City officials at noon. The City’s Urban Forestry Division will make an appearance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to provide information on the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Canopy initiative, which assists residents in making improvements to their property’s tree canopy.

The event will also raise funds for the Educational Fulfillment Fund, which benefits local economically disadvantaged youth. Patrons are also encouraged to visit the Hannibal Square Heritage Center’s current exhibit, which pays tribute to the past, present and future contributions of Winter Park’s historic African-American community and is located just across the street from Shady Park.

Event sponsors include the City of Winter Park Community Redevelopment Agency and Parks & Recreation Department, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Nu Iota Omega Chapter and Crealdé School of Art.

For more information on the festival, please call 407 599-3357.

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