Phoenix Fest all about people and community

By Jay Jones
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

Durham residents looking for a fun time for the kids, a chance to mingle in the community, good food and shopping came together last week for this year’s Phoenix Fest. Hundreds gathered for the ninth annual festival in front of the Phoenix Shopping Center located on Fayetteville Street.

Carver High Marching Band breaks it down for the crowd during the parade. Photo by Jay Jones.

The festival kicked off with a  parade down Fayetteville Street that featured local Durham public schools, high school football and little league baseball teams, the Bull City Riders Motorcycle club, local modeling agencies and marching bands from Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro and Winston Salem, just to name a few.

The parade started at the intersection of Elmira Avenue and Fayetteville Street and ended at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Fayetteville Street right in front of the festival.

Scores of vendors were waiting, welcoming people to their booths selling things ranging from art, clothes, pocketbooks, jewelry, incense and more.

The air was filled with the aroma of fresh cooked barbecue, fish, hot dogs and hamburgers.

“Everything is going great, I like that everything is free and for the kids,” said first-time festival attendee Diedre Williams. “It’s very nice to see activities like this going on in the community.”

Live performances were held throughout the day and included performances from Gospel singer Alicia Grant, the Patricia Taborn Modeling Agency, singer Bobby Hinton and Anaya Daffe’.

Carolyn Mason has no choice but to leave her seat and dance as the music moves her. Photo by Jay Jones.

“I’m having a great time. I’m 71-years-old and I dance all the time,” said Carolyn Williams, after she finished grooving to the music being played at the performance stage. “I get out there with the young folks.”

“This is what it’s about, it’s about the people, the community and I’m having a ball,” said District Court Judge hopeful Pat Evans.

The Phoenix Fest is the brainchild of Larry and Denise Hester, married for 18 years, who opened Phoenix Crossing Shopping Center in December of 2000.

They wanted to have a huge grand opening, but it was too cold to have the kind of opening they envisioned – with a parade and the works. So they waited for better weather and held their first festival in fall 2001. The first one was an overwhelming success.

“It was a great community and business building event, so we decided to do it annually,” said Denise Hester.

After each festival, the Hester’s take a break through the Christmas holiday and then start planning for the next year’s event in January.

Some of the sponsors for the event include Kerr Drug, The Carolina Times, North Carolina Mutual Life, AllState, Phoenix Square Shopping Centers, Econo Plaza and George Steven’s Insurance.

If you would like information on how to be a sponsor or participate in next year’s event, stop by 908 Fayetteville St., Suite 201 Durham, NC 27701 or call 919-680-2878 for more information. You can also email and Denise Hester will be more than happy to assist you.

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