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Multifest back this weekend

Courtesy photo
R&B singer Sheila E. headlines this year's free Multifest, which runs Friday through Sunday on the Capitol Complex. She performs at 10 p.m. Saturday.
WANT TO GO? MulitfestWHEN: Friday through SundayWHERE: State Capitol groundsCOST: FreeINFO: Visit multifestwva.com______CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While it might not have seemed very likely a few months ago, Multifest will return this weekend with three free days of entertainment, food and cultural diversity.Joseph Lloyd, vice president of the annual festival, said, "Everything is back. All of our sponsors are on board, and we're glad they're able to help sponsor Multifest."There was some doubt of that earlier this year after festival treasurer Debbie Starks pleaded guilty in January to embezzling more than $300,000 of Multifest funds between 2005 and 2010. Stephen Starks, her husband, the festival founder and president of its board, resigned not long after.
The city and county threatened to pull their part in the festival's funding but agreed to continue supporting Multifest after safeguards were put in place by the new board of directors.Lloyd said they're trying very hard to move beyond their past troubles, and really, as far as what people should expect at the Capitol grounds this weekend, it's business as usual."Everything is still family-oriented," he said. "There's no alcohol on the grounds. We know people plan their family reunions around Multifest, and we just want people to come out and have a good time."This festival kicks off Friday with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. and will include music by R-Eaze, Timeless Music, Blow, Amanda Pereze and The Zapp Band at 9 p.m.On Saturday, Multifest begins at 1 p.m. with a full day of multicultural activities and entertainment that finishes up at 10 p.m. with a concert by 1980s R&B star Sheila E., which Lloyd said should be a highpoint of the weekend.
"The main reason we wanted her was that she puts on a fantastic show -- and we try to bring something like that to Multifest every year."The festival will conclude Sunday with gospel music and message before closing out at 8 p.m. with gospel group, The Virginia Aires.Lloyd said he hoped it would be a good weekend. A lot of work has gone into the planning and execution of this Multifest. However, the board is already working on plans for next year."Next year is our 25th year," he said. "We want to do that right." Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.  
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