The Anniston Parks and Recreation Department hosted the first annual Anniston Heritage Festival Saturday at Zinn Park. The all-day celebration included live music, vendors and children’s games.
Steve Folks, Anniston’s Parks and Recreation director, said he’d been planning a new event for summer in Zinn Park since the former Juneteenth celebration, which recognized the announcement of abolition of slavery in the state of Texas, went away a few years ago.
“We’re kind of starting all over from scratch,” Folks said. “We got to build it back up again.”
Folks said he had heard that while some residents missed the former Juneteenth festival, the idea for the Heritage Festival was to be inclusive to the whole city.
“We just want to give families a chance to get out and enjoy the park,” Folks said.
Charles Barclay, one of the event’s coordinators, said while the Heritage Festival is a replacement for the former Juneteenth celebration the city used to host at Zinn Park, it’s not meant as an exact replica.
“We want this to be for everyone,” Barclay said. “It’s for all of Anniston’s heritages, Hispanic, European, everybody.”
Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart said Saturday’s event was part of a larger year-long celebration of the city’s 130th anniversary of incorporation. Stewart said events like the Heritage Festival highlight the connection all residents of Anniston have with one another.
“Events like this add to the livability and quality of life for the city,” Stewart said. “You get to see residents from all of Anniston’s wards get together.”
Stewart said Zinn Park is Anniston’s central park, and a lot of residents on hand Saturday said they had just come out to see what was going on. Laura Jones said she comes to Zinn Park frequently with her daughter and had no idea until she showed up Saturday afternoon that the festival was going on.
“We were supposed to go to Chick-fil-A for lunch,” Jones said while trying to keep an eye on her daughter and two friends. “But they don’t want to leave, so I guess we’ll just stay here all day.”
Jessie Bush said he had come out with his family to watch his daughter participate in a dance team performing during the day, but had decided to stick around for most of the afternoon.
“I’m really enjoying myself,” Bush said. “It’s great that the city is doing stuff like this.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.