FERGUSON, MO (KPLR) - Ferguson’s annual fall festival drew hundreds of residents to the center of town Saturday for a day of music, food and children’s activities.
“I think everything is coming back into focus the way it is supposed to be,” said Pastor Melvin Dunn whose North County church includes Ferguson residents. A year ago the town of 22,000 was reeling from the raw emotion of multiple protests following the confrontation between Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and teenager Mike Brown. Wilson shot and killed Brown.
Brown’s death launched a new protest movement of national proportions.
“I think what has happened in Ferguson brought to light a lot of individuals who felt disenfranchised from the city,” Ferguson Florissant School Board member Rob Chabot said. He believes the problems are being addressed.
Chabot pointed to outreach efforts across town including in the Canfield Green apartment complex where Brown was shot.
“Those that may only live in Ferguson for a year or two are now being welcomed in. We’re actually seeking out their advice, their assistance, their partnership in this city.”
The Ferguson Streetfest is designed as a music festival. It drew a diverse crowd including families with young children and older residents, but few teenagers.
Among the groups performing were the Jim Steven’s Group, Dr. Zhivegas, Pat Liston and the Coleman Hughes Project R & B and Soul.
City employee Toni Roper, who serves as the city’s marketing and event coordinator, is working to broaden the community’s public events.
“There’s a lot more diversity in things we do…reaching out to different groups with different activities. We had a motorcycle show earlier which…we’ve never done that before,” she explained.
Residents said they see a strong future for Ferguson although some worry about what demands the U.S Justice Department will impose and how the town can afford them.
“There’s been so many negative connotations about Ferguson and it’s not really true,” said Dian Garner, a 17 year resident of the town. Garner, an African American serves on the town’s Neighborhood Improvement Program Board that grants home improvement loans to home owners.