ATLANTIC CITY — Rain delayed the start of the fourth annual Historical Kentucky Avenue Renaissance Festival, but it let up enough to start the noon event at 2 p.m. Saturday on Kentucky Avenue between Atlantic and Arctic avenues.
This was the first year Carol Langston, 53, of Atlantic City, attended the festival, but she was glad the rain did not cancel it.
“I think it’s a good thing for the people. It’s giving us something to do with our children. This is a blessing for Atlantic City,” Langston said. “We keep our kids in the house. We are scared of the environment, but tonight, it’s beautiful.”
The day was filled with music as performers including John “Sax” Williams, the Unity Community Centers Royal Brass Band and a Hard Act to Follow Band. DJ Fah D, of Atlantic City, played prerecorded hits between the live acts. Food vendors, children activities, a stilt walker and historical exhibits were available on Kentucky Avenue.
Steven L. Young is the chief executive manager of Polaris Development Group, co-sponsor of the festival with the city.
The Club Harlem that operated on Kentucky Avenue during the 1940s through the 1960s was just like the Apollo Theater in New York City and the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia, Young said. The festival helps young people learn what the city once was, so they can chart a course for the future, Young said.
“This is a part of the tourism district. We don’t want anybody to forget,” Young said.
Dajenaba Blackwell is the co-founder of Polaris. Blackwell said this year’s edition was the best. Nationally known, old-school R&B acts Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes and GQ, which had hits during the 1970s, were scheduled to close the show.
“They said the rain would stop, and it did soon as a young woman came on stage and started praying, the sun came out,” Blackwell said.
Angela Burton is the only surviving lead vocalist left who sang at the Club Harlem and who still lives here. Burton’s group a Hard Act to Follow performed during the festival.
“I love it,” Burton said about the festival. “When was wasn’t overseas (during the 1970s), I was at Club Harlem or the Wonder Garden.”
A Hard Act to Follow had people who were sitting in chairs close to the stage up and dancing to their version of such 1960s oldies as the Temptations’ “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street.”
Mayor Don Guardian made an appearance at the festival. He said he would like to see Kentucky Avenue move to the next level by having permanent clubs on the street, like it used to. Guardian mentioned Kelsey’s Supper Club at 1545 Pacific Ave., which offers food and live music, but he said, “We need 10 Kelseys.”
The City Council provided $10,000 for the staging of his year’s Historical Kentucky Avenue Renaissance Festival.
“We had a little bit of country in the beginning of the weekend with Blake Shelton on Thursday. Now, we have old school R&B, and we finish off the weekend on Sunday with country again,” Guardian said, referring to the free Lady Antebellum beach concert scheduled today. “Atlantic City has always been hosts to all kinds of music.”
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