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Accent Advocate

Posted on September 21, 2010

The Richmond spirit

RICHMOND – Music, food, wine and dancing are four things that help put a positive spirit back in the heart of Richmond.

The Richmond Main Street Non-profit Organization had its second annual Spirit &' Soul Festival Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

The founder of Richmond Main Street, Amanda Elliott, says that her organization's mission is to "revitalize Downtown Richmond" and the Spirit &' Soul Festival fundraiser was intended to bring the people of Richmond together for a positive cause.

"The whole point (of the festival) is to bring people downtown and to revitalize downtown Richmond," Elliott said.

Richmond Main Street is located on Macdonald Avenue, and the organization will be having other events to make a change in the community and rebuild Main Street. They are planning to have at least four events every year, and they want to have these events in the middle of the city to spread awareness.

The festival took place in a garden on the corner of Macdonald Avenue and Harbour Way. Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said that positive events such as Spirit &' Soul are happening more and more in the city, and that she is very involved with Richmond Main Street.

McLaughlin says that she often coordinates with Elliott in various events and that she was there to "share a good time with the community."

"(The festival is held) to make people feel like Richmond is their city. It's their place," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin works with Elliott in other events, such as their monthly health awareness demonstration meetings held the first Friday of every month in Harbour Way Park.

Contra Costa College President McKinley Williams and his gospel music group, Constinance, performed in front of the crowd.

"We don't perform much, but we're doing this for Amanda to support the Richmond Main Street Project," Williams said.

The festival is a great activity and "Richmond needs these events," he said. He also said that he fully supports and is involved with the Richmond Main Street Organization. Program Coordinator Anyka Barber said that the Spirit &' Soul

Festival was inspired to promote change and highlight the good things that are happening in Richmond.

The gala was catered by culinary arts department Chairman Nader Sharkes and the CCC culinary art students. Sharkes said that it was "great to be out in the community, putting a good presence out there."

The menu had many different selections including anti-pasta, salami with cheese, chicken empanadas and wine.

The stone walkway was artfully decorated with the word "Welcome" spread out in front of the gates. The $40 admission proceeds will go to support local Richmond businesses and other Richmond Main Street programs, such as their youth program and their Clean and Safe Initiative.

Volunteer and Richmond resident Amira Hayes said she joined the production of this event because it is a "good opportunity to serve the community" and that she knew she would have a lot of fun. Along the entrance walkway, there were boutiques offering items such as clay sculptures, or  chair massages from a certified massage therapist.

The classic blues and gospel music was played for the attendees who sat in the dining space at tables, or those who mingled in the garden.

City of Richmond employee John Scott said it is important to have local gatherings in the community. He said he had fun and enjoyed the food,  garden, an d wonderful music.

Community member Lajuana Decatur says the festival is classy, vibrant and tastefully representative of the changes that this event is bringing.

People danced on the wooden dance floor in front of the large mural that depicted a happy community.

Contact Rodney Woodson at

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