Riverfront Soul Festival still succeeds amid rainy weekend

Published 11:55 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The third annual Riverfront Soul Festival was navigating rain and the forecast of more rain this past weekend, but organizers still came away pleased with the impact the event was able to have on the community and beyond.

When asked how the festival went, founder and organizer Dr. Eric Majette said, “I think in spite of the rain and the conditions we were operating in, awesome. It went very well. A lot of great programming, a lot of great resources were brought to the community.”

He said people have let him know they enjoyed the festival, and folks are looking forward to next year’s event.

The third edition of the festival featured a health and wellness fair on Friday, Sept. 8, at Camp Community College’s Workforce Development Center, followed by a comedy show that evening at the center hosted by Anguz Black.

Majette said the comedy show, which was new to the festival, was one of its most popular features.

Saturday, Sept. 9, was originally slated to feature a free music festival outdoors at Barrett’s Landing, but inclement weather forced a change.

“I’ve just got to give kudos to my team, because when the storm came in on Saturday as we were setting up, we had to make a decision whether we were going to shut the festival down for that day or we were going to move it over to Camp Community College,” Majette said. “And the entire team shifted and got together, and within three hours, we had the entire festival up and running at Camp Community College.”

“We weren’t moving a party; we were moving a whole festival,” he added.

The music festival featured a collection of talented performers, headlined by Tom Browne, a national R&B and funk artist.

“He did an amazing job,” Majette said.

Due to the forecast of more rain on Sunday, Sept. 10, the festival remained indoors at the Workforce Development Center where a worship service and GospelFest were held.

“Sunday, we had Gospel artists from all over to come in, and (we) had a very powerful worship service that morning,” Majette said.

He estimated that more than 2,000 people came in and out of the festival across all three days.

“People came in from Maryland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, we had some folks down from New York, North Carolina, we had a few people from South Carolina, (and) of course Virginia and Hampton Roads,” he said. “So, it had a wide reach.”

He noted that Truist Financial Corporation was the presenting sponsor for the festival. The corporation donated $20,000 to Paul D. Camp Community College for its workforce program, and it also supported the festival.

Majette said the health and wellness fair was good, but he indicated that more work needs to be done to promote it to the community.

“We’ve just got to find a way to connect to the community, to make the community aware, to get the community to come out,” he said. “We had every resource you could think of from mental health services to diabetes screenings to physical and medical checkups to heart information, all types of stuff.”

One aspect of the fair that was highly successful was the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore’s mobile market, which Majette said was emptied within a few hours, providing 75 to 100 people with free groceries.

To see more from the event, find the Riverfront Soul Festival on Facebook, Instagram and at RiverfrontSoulFestival.com.