Mount Vernon, New York, September 10, 2012 – Mount Vernon residents have been waiting for the return of its big street festival ever since Mayor Ernest D. Davis left office. Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, Arts on Third will come alive on September 16, 2012 with bursts of color and the sound of music. 

The mayor and the Arts on Third Committee will officially kick off this year’s festival on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 11am on the City Hall Plaza. They will hold a press conference and offer a sample of the talent that will be hitting the streets and stages this Sunday.

Arts on Third, the city’s ode to its wealth of artistic talent and cultural diversity, have Mayor Ernest D. Davis and Festival Co-Coordinators Judy Williams and Shari Harris filled with promise that this year’s event will be the biggest and best yet. “When we left office in 2007 our attendance was over 25,000 people. This year everyone is buzzing in anticipation of reuniting once again to enjoy the good vibes that always comes with the festival”, said Williams.

This year the festival will embrace another city initiative, New York Ghana Expo (NYGE).  Mayor Ernest Davis has been working with Malaika Media since the beginning of the year on an international trade initiative to spur improved business investment and trade opportunity with the African nation of Ghana.

The Expo, scheduled for September 14 through September 18 the Expo will feature a unique opportunity for members of the community to participate in a Durbar of Chiefs, a convening of chiefs from Ghana and the United States with the people. In attendance will be Asantefuohene of New York and Nana Okokyeredom Owoahene Acheampong Tieku, Ashante (Ghana) Chief. The Durbar will be the first time such a celebration has been held in the New York area. The ceremony will provide a glimpse into the African culture and its rich tradition of recognizing royalty – kings, queens, chiefs and elders who will appear in public procession to rekindle their bond with their people.

“When individuals of this stature get together in Ghana, it is reason for joyous celebration. They are royalty to us and represent status and authority. There is music and dance and ceremonies to honor our ancestors. The Ghanaian community is excited to be a part of this historic event”, said Kojo Ampah Sahara, President of Maiaike Media Network.
The Expo will add to Arts on Third entertainment by bringing African talent to the festival as well as vendors. Performance artists include Okeyerema Asante, renowned traditional African drummer and African recording artists Paapa Wastik, Nana NYC and Ambassador. Throughout length of the Expo vendors will be available in the city hall plaza to sell their wares. “We’re excited about the vendors who will be bringing traditional items and the opportunity to present a wide range of talent from different genres. Our three stages are filled to capacity”, said Judy Williams.
An exhibit of photographs by the renowned Harlem Renaissance photographer James Vanderzee will hang in the lobby of the Westhab building on South Fourth Avenue. Noted artist Milton Sherrill, whose sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stands prominently before the Westchester County courthouse and whose works are owned by Harry Belafonte and Bill Cosby, will sell prints of some of his most prolific work.
He will be among other artists who have supported the festival over the years. Bujo Williams, Arts on Third committee member and talented painter said. “This is such a great event. Original art is what we do and with Arts on Third we have a local forum to show and sell our work”.
While art and merchandise sales are a draw for festival attendees, the opportunity for local and up and coming performance artists creates has kept festival organizers busy. “This year the competition was fierce”, said Cathy Webb, Entertainment Committee Chair. “We had so many requests to participate that we literally had to narrow the field down to the best of the best”.
Making a welcome comeback will be crowd favorite and Mount Vernon native Billy Mitchell, also known as Mr. Apollo.  Mitchell. Mitchell, who is a walking reference book on the Apollo, hosts a mini Amateur Night at the Apollo where competitors vie for a spot on the famous Apollo stage.
Sports Alley will be ablaze with action when wrestling superstars Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Tony ‘Mr USA/Simba Samba” Atlas step into the ring on 1st Avenue and 3rd Street to give fans a blast from the past. Five championship matches are scheduled. The festival’s Sports Alley will also offer boxing, martial arts and Zumba demonstrations as well as basketball, tennis and golf. Festival goers of all ages can enter a jump rope competition for an opportunity to win top honors as Mount Vernon’s double dutch champ.
Headliners to hit the main stage this year include Mike Phillips and Fil Straughan who are both coming home to take the Arts on Third stage. Gerald Alston, former lead singer with the Manhattans;  an Svet, the America’s Got Talent contestant who has since gone on to collaborate with Hip Hop artists; and EYFC (Ebenezer Youth Fellowship Choir) out of Yonkers.  Closing the show will be festival favorite, Doug E. Fresh, who will host a tribute to the late Mount Vernon rap artist, Dwight “Heavy D” Myers. “Our family is grateful for the outpouring of love for Dwight. This recognition means so much for us because Mount Vernon was his home. He loved this city and its people and he’ll in spirit”, said Eulalee Myers, Heavy D’s mother. Doug E. Fresh, the most consistent entertainer appearing since the festival’s inception, will be bringing along some friends to perform during the tribute.

WHEN:                 Wednesday, September 12, 2012
WHERE:               City Hall Plaza
TIME:                   11:00AM

For further information contact Shari Harris at 914.665.2572.
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