Family festival organizers slam Levy Park for canceling festival

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Organizers of a family festival featuring black and Latino performers say it was canceled by the venue “due to discriminatory action”.

The Kids Let’s Party Fest was scheduled to take place at Levy Park in the Upper Kirby district on Sunday with a lineup that included Nickelodeon star That Girl Lay Lay, father-son duo Enkyboys and singer Adassa, who voiced Dolores Madrigal in the Disney movie “Encanto”.

Less than 48 hours before the gates opened, festival producer Ernesto “Chuly” Diaz said the park notified him by email that they were canceling it.

“We produced concerts all over Texas, Louisiana, Florida. We have never encountered such a situation. Never in 30 years,” Diaz said after a press conference at the Woodshed Smokehouse, adjacent to the park. Diaz was joined by That Girl Lay Lay, Adassa and Texas radio personality Jimmy Olson, another festival producer.

“It must be discrimination. What else could it be?” Diaz said.

Officials blamed organizers for the lack of permits.

In an emailed statement, Levy Park officials said, “Mr. Diaz did not provide full terms and conditions of park use for an event of this magnitude, including copies of applicable City of Houston permits, a security screening plan, site layout consistent with its permitted use of the park, entry locations and exit points, and when festival staff and contractors would be on site.

On Sunday afternoon, young fans and their parents strolled through the park in search of the festival. Some were dressed as Adassa’s character in “Encanto,” with large red bows holding back their black, curly hair. Others clutched colorful designs of the animated star.

“I know you were all very excited. I mean it’s not our fault. I don’t want you all to think we were part of an event that wasn’t real. The event was real,” Lay Lay told the crowd.

Adassa was especially “saddened,” she said, because Houston holds a special place in her heart. She stayed an hour after the press conference, signing autographs, posing for photos and singing “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” with fans.

“This is the first time I’ve been back to Houston in years. This is where I met my husband. This is where I started my career. I went to high school here,” said Adassa, who attended Conroe High School.

Earlier this week, a red banner alert appeared on the park’s website announcing that the event “will not take place” and directed all questions to a festival phone number. Diaz said he was not informed of the cancellation until after the notice appeared. Adassa and Lay Lay also said they received messages from several fans about the status of the event.

Diaz also claims that park employees, for at least two weeks, have been telling people who have called to inquire about the festival that such an event does not occur. The park never listed the festival on its website or promoted it on social media.

In a recorded phone call obtained by the Chronicle, a park employee tells a caller “there is no festival in Levy Park on Sunday.”

When the caller asks if it was cancelled, she responds, “I don’t know what to tell you. I have no idea.”

According to the park’s emailed statement, “events cannot be made public without certain elements in place, including a signed contract and adherence to Levy Park’s guidelines.”

“Our contract with Mr. Diaz does not require us to publicize his event in any way,” he continues.

Texas radio personality and festival co-producer Jimmy Olson, who plans to hold a similar event at Tyler, said he thinks park officials balked when they saw the black and Latino performers on the flyer. .

“It was about families, children. Of all the things you might have a problem with, what could it have been other than the colors in this flyer? ” he said. “It’s a matter of skin color. It is nothing else.

“I would like the District of Upper Kirby to do the right thing. I wish they would admit what they did because it should never happen again. It is the most diverse city in the country.

The event was originally scheduled for June 25 at The Water Works in Buffalo Bayou Park, but was moved to June 26 to avoid a conflict with the Pride Houston festival and parade. It was moved again to July 17 at Levy Park to accommodate Lay Lay, who was attending the BET Awards.

Diaz now plans to hold the festival at a different venue and will offer free entry to everyone.

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