Roots and Heritage Festival returns to Lexington

Roots and Heritage Festival returns to Lexington
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 10:27 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - For the first time since 2019, the Roots and Heritage Festival is putting its roots back down in Lexington. The decades-long tradition celebrates diversity in our area, and brings a weekend of entertainment to the city’s east end.

“We started this in 1989 and we were one little bitty block and now we’ve taken over from Fourth Street all the way to Short Street,” Festival Chair Kimberly Baird said.

Baird said the festival’s growth encapsulates its importance as a both celebration of, and an education on, Lexington’s diversity.

“It’s just a joyous occasion not just for Black Lexington, but for everybody,” festival goer Shon Willis said.

“When you’re in school you have to learn about different cultures. That’s why you come here as well,” Baird said.

But for the past two years, the pandemic took away what Baird and others had built.

While attendees are excited that the festival has returned, Baird said it nearly didn’t happen for the third straight year, and the potential cancellation had nothing to do with COVID.

“My day job is I’m a prosecutor so I see what’s going on in the city…” Baird said.

Baird is well aware of the city’s struggle to control gun violence, but she wouldn’t let that get in the way of this weekend.

“I thought, I can’t let this festival be held hostage by some people who can’t conform to behavior, to the law,” Baird said.

She said over 33 years, there has never been a major issue. It’s a testament to the spirit of the event—a soulful, peaceful spirit they hope will carry on through the rest of the weekend.

“There’s been a lot of violence here recently but this is the time where we can put that aside and come together as one,” Baird said.

Baird said they will have an increased security presence throughout the area to ensure the safety of everyone in attendance.