XRootsFest (cross-roots-fest) returned to Maplewood with a bang this year at Memorial Park where more than 500 residents gathered on Saturday, June 2, to celebrate the music, food, dance and culture from different regions around the world. The annual multicultural extravaganza included new acts this year and a return of the popular “Big Edu-tainment Tent,” which featured multicultural ambassadors hosting interactive family-friendly activities throughout the day.
The festival MC was radio and TV personality Beatrice Carter who kept the energy high all day—and whose teenaged son hosted an entertaining impromptu dance showcase with young volunteers from the crowd! The rain held out and things heated up when new act 3Z Elements, a Latin Zumba team, took the stage and brought the crowd to its feet to dance. New York City-based Taiko drumming/street dancing group The Cobu Project kept the high energy going while kids enjoyed bouncy houses and families browsed vendors selling unique goods. Drums from Heaven lead drumming circles throughout the day while families and children engaged in activities, such as multicultural story time, Vietnamese bamboo jumping, kid Zumba, Japanese Taiko drumming and African drumming in the Edu-tainment Tent.
People gathered on the lawn with chairs and blankets to watch acts like Foot and Fiddle Dance Company; Native American Red Storm Drum and Dance Troupe; Hip/Hop, Rap music from Felisha George & Freetown; East Indian dancing from Creations Dance Academy; soul-filled singing from special guest Jonathan Celestin; Haitian dance troupe Racines and so much more.
XRootsFest would not be possible without the many, many volunteer hours of residents and trustees Barbara Velazquez, Mark Mucci, Kelly Quirk, David Harris, Susan Jennings, Diane Thomson, Tegan Culler, Frances Bucien, Destini DeCasta, Robert Marchman, Istvan Flesh, Reynaldo Tapia, Mary Forbes, Merle Edwards, Karen Wells, Catherine Cronin and youth volunteers Olivia Marcus, Destini DeCasta, Trevon Valentine, Amir Brown and Grace Lostuto. We would like to thank the Maplewood Township and its Township Committee for all their support this year, as well the Maplewood DPW and Maplewood Police Department for their work at the festival.
We truly appreciated the presence of the South Orange Village Trustees, Steven Schnall and Deborah Davis Ford, and Maplewood Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee, along with committee members Dean Dafis and Nancy Adams. Your continued municipal support of integration and inclusion is so important.
The festival was supported by generous grants from Discovery NJ Arts through the Essex County Local Arts Grant program and from Investors Foundation. We are also grateful for support from these wonderful local businesses: Watchung Pediatrics; Vanessa Pollock Realty; Erica Constable; South Mountain YMCA; St. James Gate Publick House; Papillon 25 restaurant; Rainbow Families; and SOMA Macaroni Kid. We also thank LMF Audio, Stainfil Studios and the Cobu Project who provided generous in-kind support.