By Autumn Shelton, WV Press Association
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Multifest, West Virginia’s longest-running, and largest festival dedicated to the celebration of diversity, will be returning to the Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston, beginning on Aug. 5.
The three-day event will feature art, music, education, cultural programs and cuisine designed to enrich the community by “providing a venue to celebrate diversity for all citizens throughout our region.”
“We have people come from all over,” said Tamara G. Eubanks, Multifest executive director, while speaking with the media on Monday. “We have people coming in from California, and vendors coming in from Georgia. So it’s (Multifest) becoming almost a household name.”
Founded in 1989, Multifest has become one of the state’s most anticipated annual traditions. With 2020’s event being unfortunately canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year marks the 32nd celebration of the festival.
“In past years, we’ve averaged about 25,000 to 30,000 people in attendance over the three-day period,” Eubanks said.
In addition to local artists, such as American Idol-alum Nakkia Ayers, this year’s event will feature headlining-performances by recording-superstars Mya, Tony! Toni! Tone!, and Chingy. Previous years have been headlined by such performers as Silk, Dru Hill, and Kelly Price.
“Performing at Multifest is like something off my bucket list that I never even knew was on it,” local artist Neenee Incognita said on Wednesday. Neenee, along with national recording artist Klymaxx, will Join Ayers and Mya on opening night for Multifest’s first ever “All Female Showcase.”
“The inner child in me is super proud of the woman I’m becoming,” Neenee added.
Neenee Incognita has been performing professionally since 2020, and completed a five-city tour during the summer of 2021 – including dates in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, Greenville, Atlanta, Knoxville and Nashville. During her high school years, Neenee spent her time delivering “spoken word” performances at various locations and events throughout the Charleston-area.
“I took a long hiatus while I was in college,” Neenee said. “I didn’t write anything creatively – I used that time to complete my degree. Right before the pandemic hit, I decided it was time to do something that was self-fulfilling for me. And that was writing, which evolved into music very quickly.”
After Multifest, Neenee Incognita will be taking a break from performing while working on her forthcoming album.
“We try to support local artists,” Eubanks noted. “We’re right here in the community, so we want to showcase our local talent.”
Day-two of Multifest will feature performances by local artists Somethin’ Special and Redline Band.
“We also have local performers of Egyptian belly dance – Tiffani and Halima,” Eubanks added. “They’ve been with us several times in the past, and people love them.”
In addition to the musical performances, Sunday will feature a “Back to School Block Party.” DJ Hosea Murphy will be playing “sounds for the youth,” and free snacks – generously donated by area churches – will be available. Sunday will also feature a mobile gaming truck, inflatables and rides, sand art and crafts and free face painting. Backpacks, and other school supplies will be given away at no cost, and there will be a very special appearance by Mickey Mouse.
As always, Multifest is free to attend. Additional information, including a full list of performers and schedule of events, is available by visiting multifestwv.org.