JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Umoja Arts and Cultural Inc. held the 25th Umoja festival at King Common’s Park in downtown Johnson City on Saturday.
“Umoja” is the Swahili name for Unity, meaning to be in harmony and on one accord, to combine and include all.
Although this is the 25th official year of the festival, it originally started out as an annual unity picnic at Carver Park in 1978. In 1997, the founders of the picnic decided to turn it into a community-wide festival.
“It’s been in Johnson City for 25 years, the longest-running festival in Johnson City. It started off as a picnic at Carver and it has grown over the years to what it is today, a beautiful day at King Commons Park where we have different vendors and food and music entertainment.,” says Umoja volunteer Jasmine Henderson.
Umoja grew to offer merchandise and food vendors, games, live music, information booths, medical screenings and much more.
The location has changed from Carver Park, to Freedom Hall and now downtown Johnson City.
“The Calling of the Drums” opened up the ceremony today. A Umoja tradition started by the late Reverend Vincent Dial. This year, the Umoja festival is dedicated to honoring the legacy he left on the community.
“We hope this continues on for another 25 years,” says Umoja volunteer Chris Cole.
Umoja also has fundraisers, community events, art galleries and much more throughout the year to help amplify diversity in the region.