Palmetto’s Multicultural Festival

Published on: January 9, 2019

Multicultural Festival celebrates Palmetto’s cultural diversity


Antoinette Kilgore, left, and Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant talk about the plans for the Palmetto Multicultural Festival, Jan. 19, at Lincoln Park. Kilgore, an executive assistant at the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency, has been in charge of organizing the festival each year from when it was started in 2012.

During the March on Washington in 1963, the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech” where he hoped for a United States where children of different cultural backgrounds will join hands as brothers and sisters.

Palmetto residents will celebrate the national holiday that marks King’s life with a weekend of activities.

There is an awards banquet, a parade, a festival and a community church service scheduled.

The seventh annual Multicultural Festival celebrating Palmetto’s cultural diversity will be from 2 to 6 p.m., Jan. 19, at Lincoln Park, on the corner of U.S. 41 and 17th Avenue East.

“We have a very culturally diverse community and have events for the whole community,” said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant. “Martin Luther King’s message was to bring the community together and to have a multicultural society.

“This will be a busy weekend with the parade, the Multicultrual Festival, and also the Manatee County Fair will be that weekend,” Bryant said.

Antoinette Kilgore, an executive assistant at the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has been in charge of organizing the festival from the first one in 2012.

 “We’re getting better at putting this together, and it’s getting easier,” Kilgore said. “It takes time, but every year it grows and grows.

“We had about 4,500 people come last year,” she said.

The festival kicks off with a Youth Extravaganza at 2 p.m., right after the parade ends.

Palmetto Youth Center will host the talent show of young singers and dancers from the community.

“We get young talent that may not ordinarily have a venue and showcase them,” the mayor said.

“We’ve had Polynesian dancers one year,” Said Kilgore, “and children did a Mexican dance routine (another year).”

Community activist James Thomas Jr. will be the DJ for the event, keeping the crowd entertained between acts.

The professional entertainers scheduled are Al Chisolm, a saxophonist from St. Petersburg; Grupo Mango, a salsa/Latin band from Bradenton; and the headliner act, Howard Hewett.

“People will remember (Howard Hewett) from the group Shalamar,” Kilgore said. “He sings (rhythm and blues) and popular songs.”

All street festivals have great food, and the Multicultural Festival is no exception.

The Kids Zone at the Palmetto Multicultural Festival at Lincoln Park will have free rides, games and contests, and bouncy houses.

There will be barbeque vendors, such as Word of Mouth, J&J’s, Three Kings and Guy’s BBQ.

“The Kona Ice truck will be there,” Kilgore said.

There will be several vendors selling Mexican food and Labo Fruit Cups will be selling real fresh fruit.

The Traveling Kitchen also will be there, selling soul food and fried fish.

For the seafood lovers, Claws and More will have a booth.

“And there’s a Kid’s Zone where we have free rides and contests,” Kilgore said.

She said this year there will be a big slide, a pirate ship that swings back and forth, and a merry-go-round-type ride.

“Plus we’ll have some bouncy houses,” Kilgore said.

Former Manatee County School Board member Barbara Harvey and her organization, Educational Consortium Consultants Inc., will set up a big tent and have volunteers read to the children.

The children also will receive free books.

Several community service agencies will be there handing out information on what services they provide.

Kilgore said groups such as the Manatee Community Action Agency and the Mayors Feed the Hungry program will have a table at the festival.

“Besides all the entertainment and good food, people can learn about all the community services available to them,” Bryant said. “I like to go around and thank all the vendors because they are all volunteers.”

“Also, a lot of the sororities and fraternities come to talk to the kids,” Kilgore added.

Bryant said the Multicultural Festival draws people from all over Manatee County, and even from St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

Around 4,500 people attended last year’s Palmetto Multicultural Festival at Lincoln Park, for a day of food, fun, and entertainment.

“A lot of times I go to the grocery store, and I recognize a lot of people,” she said, “but the festival draws from a broad area, and there are a lot of people I don’t recognize there.”

All of the festivities, except for the food vendors, are free to the public.

Bryant said the idea to hold the multicultural festival came from people in the community.

The mayor said community leader Mac Sellars and former City Commissioner Charles Smith talked to the CRA about organizing a festival.

“There used to be parties and picnics throughout the neighborhoods after the parade and we brought them together in one place,” Bryant said.

“It gets the kids off the street and alleviates the congestion in the neighborhoods,” Kilgore said. “It’s a good idea to bring the community together.”

Along with the parade the Palmetto Youth Center has several other activities planned to celebrate the King holiday.

On Jan. 18 the organization will hold the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Awards Banquet.

And on Jan. 20, a community church service will be held at the youth center, 501 17th St. W., in Palmetto.

For more information about the Multicultural Festival or to reserve a spot for a food truck/booth contact Antoinette Kilgore at the CRA offices at 941-723-4988.

For more information about the Palmetto Youth Center and its activities, visit its website at or call 941-722-0783.