ROSWELL, Ga. — It’s that time of year again. One of the largest celebrations of black culture and history in the state, the Roswell Roots Festival, is about to being.
The month-long celebration has existed for almost two decades and is driven by members of Roswell’s black community.
“The goal of Roswell Roots is to raise awareness and to better connect our community as a whole,” said Beckie Hawkins, Cultural Services Manager. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate the contributions that [the black community] has made to Roswell and bring appreciation to the black community not only in Roswell, but the culture as a whole and what it means to both Roswell as a whole and the greater region.”
Roswell Roots has always dedicated a whole month for the festival in conjunction with Black History Month. It contains events with food, music, history, education and art.
“We have something going on almost every weekend that highlights different aspects,” Hawkins said. “We try to hit every sort of aspect in terms of what is important to this community. That’s why we call it the biggest celebration, because we do hit on so many of those facets, and it goes on the whole month.”
To kick off the festival this year, Roswell Roots will host the Jazz Vespers performance at Roswell Presbyterian Church, 755 Mimosa Blvd. on Sunday, Jan. 27 starting at 4 p.m. The free concert combines the melodic and harmonic rhythms of jazz with the Atlanta Jazz Chorus and Quartet under the direction of Dr. Dwight Andrews.
New this year is the Southern Soul Fixins cook-off. In the past, Roswell Roots has hosted a pound cake cook-off and a corn-bread cook-off. The new cook-off combines these and has added categories for meat-based side dishes and vegetarian side dishes. The city is still looking for entries.
The cook-off will be held Sunday, Feb. 10, 12:30-3:30 p.m. at the Roswell Area Park Community Activity Building, 10495 Woodstock Road. It will include live music and storytelling.
Roswell Roots also touches on student education. The college fair will once again return to help connect Roswell students with over 50 schools and financial aid resources. The fair will be held Sunday, Feb. 24 from 2-5 p.m. at the East Roswell Recreation Center, 9000 Fouts Road.
Ongoing historical and art exhibits will include an art exhibit of local black artists, an exhibit on the history of slavery in Georgia, and a photographic exhibit of the everyday heroes in Roswell’s black community.
“We try to have something for everyone, for every age,” Hawkins said. “And we try to make sure that we keep it fresh and new and exciting, especially for the people who come to these events year after year. It might change year-to-year depending on where we feel the interest is, or what we might be missing.”
Other events this year include the Ranky Tanky concert on Feb. 16 and two events highlighting the local Groveway Community Group: Groveway’s Got Talent on Feb. 3 and Telling Our Story on Feb. 17.
“I hope people come out and enjoy one of the events,” Hawkins said. “It’s important that people support these types of events to get better connected to their community and their neighbors.”
For a full list of events and celebrations, visit roswellroots.com.