Home Valley Advocate VA35-ArtsCulture-2016




Food and Family, A Stone’s Throw Away


Community is everything at the Stone Soul Festival in Springfield, a celebration that began in 1989 as a Mason Square neighborhood picnic. Since then, it’s evolved into a three-day event that its organizers claim is New England’s largest African-American festival. Family activities and entertainment abound – including live gospel, jazz, R&B, and dance – but the fest also provides an opportunity for minority businesses to display their wares and crafts. The fun culminates on Sunday with “Praise In The Park” beginning at 10 a.m. followed by the Stone Soul Picnic 1 p.m. (seniors and children eat free). Hard to think of better fare for sun-lit outdoor afternoons than plates of chicken, barbecue beans, cole slaw, and fall-off-the-bone ribs.

Stone Soul runs thoughout the year as a nonprofit, hosting job fairs and various community services, but this is the annual event that makes it all worth it, with thousands attending each year. It’s a regional tradition for all ethnicities and faiths, and in a 123-acre park full of picnic tables, tennis courts, and open space, everyone is welcome to come catch up, meet each other, spread out, relax, and give thanks. Chairs and blankets encouraged.


Stone Soul Festival: Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 9 a.m., and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Free. Blunt Park, Roosevelt Avenue, Springfield. (413) 636-3881, stonesoulfestival.com.


— Hunter Styles, [email protected]