25th annual Multifest to be held Aug. 1-3

By By Erin Beck
Staff writer
CHRIS DORST | Gazette (L-R) Dallas Staples, president of the Multifest board of directors, David Fr

Despite rumors to the contrary, the 25th annual Multifest will be held at the State Capitol Complex Aug. 1-3, organizers said Tuesday.

More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the event.

“Multifest has been great for the city and the state,” Board President Dallas Staples said. “It’s the longest running event of its kind in the state.”

Multifest is a celebration of diverse cultures and ethnic communities featuring art, music, education, cultural programs, cuisine, vendors and children’s activities.

Live entertainment planned includes local and national performers.

Featured artists include J. Holiday/Tasha Denae on Friday at 9 p.m., Kelly Price on Saturday at 10 p.m., and Ty Tribett on Sunday at 8 p.m.

At a press conference Tuesday, organizers addressed rumors the event might not go on this year.

Staples, a former Charleston police chief, said finding funding for free events can be a challenge.

He said local businesses were also dealing with the fall-out from the water crisis.

“We were getting sponsors,” he said. “It was just slow coming in. The city and county were on board, but I think West Virginia University coming on gave us that major boost that we needed.”

WVU has served as a sponsor in years past but will serve as the primary sponsor this year.

David Fryson, WVU vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, said support for an event like Multifest is in line with not only the diversity office at WVU, but the school’s mission as a land-grant university.

“We are really excited and we believe after 25 years of devotion in this community we can run alongside and make it even greater and even broader,” Fryson said.

Other major sponsors include the city of Charleston and the Kanawha County Commission.

Mayor Danny Jones said he heard concerns the event might not go on this year.

“Someone stopped me and said Mr. Jones, I heard you shut down the Multifest,” Jones said. “ I said I not only didn’t shut down the Multifest, I didn’t have the power to shut down the Multifest. The Multifest will take place.”

He thanked several organizations and volunteers for coming together to plan the event.

“This is a city-sanctioned event, but it’s not a city event,” he said. “It’s put on by a private 501(c)(3) and a lot of volunteers.”

Both the city and county threatened to pull their support last year, after former Multifest executive director Deborah Starks was charged with embezzling more than $300,000 from the event’s books.

Staples said organizers formed a new board and established new safeguards after learning of the embezzlement.

“We do things differently,” Staples said. “We’re totally transparent. Nobody handles any money.”

All the sponsorship money goes through Gray, Griffith & Mays accounting firm.

Hope Community Development Corporation is also developing a financial report for the end of the event.

“We will be able to show people and sponsors exactly where their money was spent,” Staples said.

Multifest is a free, family-oriented, ADA accessible and alcohol-free event.

Free parking is available behind the State Capitol.

Limited spaces are still available for those interested in becoming a vendor or sponsor.

More information is available at www.multifestwva.com.

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5163 or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

More News