Daytime Essence Fest activities attract tens of thousands - News, Weather & Sports

Daytime Essence Fest activities attract tens of thousands

Thousands move through the Morial Convention Center for daytime Essence Fest activities. Thousands move through the Morial Convention Center for daytime Essence Fest activities.

When the Essence Music and Empowerment Festival is in town, the floor of the Morial Convention Center's floor easily becomes a dance spot.

It is the 20th Anniversary of the event which packs local hotels and restaurants with visitors.

"So this year, our 20th Anniversary, this festival is now the largest live event with curated content and entertainment in America, over a half million people were here last year and we expect even more this year," said Essence President Michelle Ebanks during a morning news conference attended by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and others.

The daytime events at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center draws hundreds of thousands. The offerings include a huge marketplace with unique offerings and the popular empowerment seminars on pressing topics and ways to achieve success and happiness.

"And don't be afraid to reward yourself for the things that you do, you know, we work don't we? If you work hard say, yes," said Actor Wendy Racquel Robinson of BET's,'The Game' as she addressed the audience during one afternoon seminar on Friday.

Artist Sidney Carter of Georgia painted on the convention floor. He relishes being a part of Essence.

"A lot of people and a good place to sell my art work. I always have a pretty good following here," he said.

With Prince on the main stage Friday night, it was not difficult to find fans who rattled off their favorite songs by the artist.

"'When Doves Cry,' it's just so many songs that," said Albert Cheek of Tennessee.

"'Do me Baby,' '1999,' all the old stuff. You know we want to hear all the old stuff, ‘Purple Rain'," said Shamona Avery as she walked with a group of friends.

"Overall, I think it's a great experience, everyone should come out and experience it at least once in their lifetime, this is actually my third year," said visitor Theresa Taylor.

Others are Essence Fest regulars.

"The excitement and being here with my friends, and just to have a good time," said Monique Simpson.

Many visitors in town for the Essence Fest activities said they heard about the shooting on Bourbon Street last weekend, but they did not think twice about traveling to the city.

"I think that this was something that was a fluke incident. I always feel safe when I come here, I never feel like I'm going to be killed, or shot," said Avery.

"They have a lot of security like on every corner you see a police officer," said Taylor.

And that is what local Rod Rideau likes to hear from visitors.

"I want people to come here and they shouldn't be frightened to come, that was a bunch of foolishness," said Rideau as he stood in the convention center.

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