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Meeks homecoming jazz and blues festival brings music to Idlewild

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IDLEWILD — An Idlewild family is celebrating the first of their family’s very own music festival, the Meeks Homecoming Jazz and Blues Festival. The birth of the tenth, and the continual rise in its popularity.

The event will be held at noon on Saturday, August 5th at Yates Township Hall, 6437 S. Nelson Road, Idlewild.

Organizers recommend bringing lawn chairs, blankets and coolers. Picnic tables and tent spots can be reserved.

The festival draws hundreds of people from Chicago, Detroit, Pontiac and elsewhere.

Due to the high attendance at last year’s festival (over 800 people), the festivities have been moved from the founder’s own John Meeks Park to the Yates Town Hall grounds.

This year, organizers expect 800 to 1,500 people to attend.

The festival is the result of a community initiative led by John Meeks. After problems with the town, Meeks opted to hold the festival on his own land, giving birth to the Idlewild Homecoming Jazz and Blues Festival.

After Meeks passed away, the festival was taken over by his daughter Janet and son-in-law Charlie Martin.

Janet Meeks-Martin said: “He (John Meeks) insists that concerts are always free, so that’s what we’re trying to do. Right now, we’re involved in fundraising and sponsorship.”

Meeks-Martin said her father was so passionate about bringing entertainment and events to Idlewild that he founded the Idlewild African American Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the festival and created the John Meeks Parks to facilitate activities.

“It gives people a chance to do something at Idlewild. It’s a day of fellowship and fun. I look forward to seeing people relax, smile and have a good time,” she said.

Meeks-Martin said it felt great to offer people this opportunity to relax, enjoy their day and listen to music that grew out of Ild Wilder’s rich music and history of black entertainment.

“Artists usually come to Idlewild to draw crowds to the island and to the Flamingo Club,” she said. “It’s a big deal for the dancers and the shows that go on there. We’re just trying to get that feeling back.”

Much to Meeks-Martin’s delight, interest in the festival has only grown over the festival’s ten-year lifespan.

“Ten years later, people still want to come, and it really warms our hearts, and that says a lot,” she said.

Featured performers include Asamu Johnson and Associates of Blues, Al Lindsey, Nikell Johnson and a few surprise performers.

Although this is a free event, donations are welcome and can be wired to $Chamber870 via the Cash App.

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