Needing room to grow: 7th Avenue Festival requests venue change

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s one of Columbus’s oldest festivals, and a sort of Fall homecoming for many in the Friendly City.

However, a request for a change of venue has been met with a somewhat unfriendly response from the Columbus City Council.

The award-winning 7th Avenue Heritage Festival is something of a Fall tradition in Columbus.

For more than 40 years, it has been held on 7th Avenue North.

State Representative Kabir Karriem has been the festival coordinator for more than 20 years.

He said the event needs a larger venue, and he and other organizers would like to move it to Propst Park.

“What I was asking for was trying to be proactive in keeping the festival on Seventh Avenue but moving in a bigger space because the event has become so big,” Karriem said. “It has outgrown the streets. We were just trying logistically to get in front of the situation.”

But making that move would require a change to a city alcohol ordinance that sets limits on alcohol sales and consumption in city parks.

City Attorney Jeff Turnage drew up an amendment to that ordinance, but it failed to pass the Columbus City Council.

Karriem said the council’s action isn’t just a blow to the festival but to the quality of life in the city as a whole.

But, at the same time, he’s not entirely surprised.

“It doesn’t set a good precedent for the city but it’s typical of the inconsistency of policies that this council has been making since this administration has been in office and it’s unfortunate because it doesn’t hurt me, it hurts the constituents we all represent,” Karriem said. “7th Avenue Festival is a very positive event, we haven’t had incidents of any magnitude and it has been a model of festivals for others to come.”

Mayor Keith Gaskin said he still hopes the festival can find a venue that allows it to build on its success and bring in more visitors.

“I’m hoping that the 7th Avenue Festival is a great event that we are having in the city,” Gaskin said. “I’m hoping that we are going to be able to work out a good compromise so that the festival can take place in an area that will maintain their growth and then also help them continue to have the great event that it has been.”

Karriem said the 7th Avenue Heritage Festival is scheduled for October 4 and October 5.

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