The Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival is all about local talent, co-founder Fanon Hill will tell you.
Years ago, the other co-founder, community organizer Shirley Foulks, was working at the Cherry Hill Homes when a middle schooler named Marquis Gasque approached her and told her about his passion for creating hip beats. -hop.
Wanting to support him, Foulks raised money to buy a laptop computer and beat-making software for the student. Mighty Mark, as many now know him, became a famous DJ and producer, as well as a pioneer of Baltimore club music.
On Monday, Mighty Mark will take the stage at Middle Branch Park to celebrate the first in-person version of the waterfront festival in three years.
“It really speaks to the power of community arts, in terms of investing in our children and providing them with opportunities,” Hill said.
The sixth year Cherry Hill Waterfront Arts and Music Festivalwhich will take place from 1 to 10 p.m. on July 4, is designed to honor the legacy of Harriet Tubman 200 years after her birth in Maryland.
The challenges people continue to face during the pandemic — and their responses to those challenges — reminded organizers of the self-determination and resourcefulness of Cherry Hill residents, Hill said. As they worked to bring the festival to life this year, they tied these themes to Tubman’s life and legacy.
One of the artists performing this year was chosen specifically to celebrate that legacy.
Baltimore club music queen TT the Artist, aka Tedra Wilson, was able to shine a light on the black arts and culture scene in Baltimore with her 2021 documentary “Dark City Beneath the Beat,” Hill said. .
“We wanted to celebrate her again this year because of her determination, her ferocity and what she was able to do,” Hill said.
For Wilson, performing at this year’s festival feels like going back to basics.
Although she’s had a few shows in Baltimore over the past year, Wilson said coming back to Cherry Hill was different because of how community-centric the festival is.
Hill attributes all of the festival’s success to the participation of Cherry Hill residents. The Youth Resiliency Institute, run by Hill, runs workshops for Cherry Hill youth to learn about the different careers involved in festival planning.
In addition to employing 50 local people at their 2019 festival, organizers commissioned young Cherry Hill residents to design the fireworks show in partnership with Image Engineering, an event production company in Curtis Bay.
“We’re trying to make sure it’s understood that arts and culture is an economic driver,” Hill said.
Wilson performed at the first version of the festival in 2017, and she remembers how different she and the festival were back then.
“Being able to see something continue to grow, I love that. I know this festival is built around supporting local artists, supporting the community, and so I had a great time,” he said. she declared.
“Playing the first one was an easy yes, and playing this one was an easy yes.”
Since 2017, the Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival has told a story different from that traditionally associated with the region.
Cherry Hill was the nation’s first planned township, originally developed in 1945 as a federal housing project for black veterans and their families after white Baltimoreans opposed all other potential sites, according to a 2015 Morgan State Study.
In addition to showcasing Cherry Hill and its people, the festival highlights Middle Branch Park, a site overlooking the Patapsco River that is set to be restored from a historic dumping ground to an attractive, usable shoreline in years to come.
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“We know nationally that because of environmental racism, segregation, park systems weren’t always welcoming to black people, people of color,” Hill said.
“This festival reminds us that our Baltimore city parks, our gems and gems, play a major role in community life.”
In addition to musical performances throughout the day, festival-goers can expect photo exhibits, food trucks, historical re-enactments of scenes from Tubman’s life, fashion shows and fireworks to crown the night.
In a nod to the neighborhood’s history, organizers plan to honor veterans by having an active member of the U.S. Army Reserve present awards to Arthur Lee Hayes and Leon Bailey, two veterans older living in Cherry Hill.
For Hill, the most meaningful moment of the festival will come when he can take a moment to sit back and watch everyone enjoy the festival.
“When the first performer comes on stage, seeing the expression on the faces of children, young people and elders, it always makes me happy,” he said.
“It lets me know that the work we are engaged in must continue.”