Festival History

Annual Fifth Avenue Arts Festival

The Annual Fifth Avenue Arts festival began in the summer of 1979.  The purpose of the Festival was to share the rich cultural history of the 5th ave /Seminary Lane community.  The participation in the first year was less than 100 people.  A group of people made up of UF students a community residents joined together to organize the event.  Lavern Porter Dancers were among the first performers along with

The Festival has grown and has hosted up to 20,000 people.

The event is currently three days of performing, and visual arts.  Local businesses and organizations participate in the 2 day event. They bring information about opportunities for both youth and adults in the community.

As a part of Pre Festival activities, artists go into the public schools to demonstrate their craft.  Artists have included painters i.e. Isaac Knight of the original “Highwaymen”, photographer. Ronnie Phillips, performers such as Atlanta Temba Issa.

On the second day the Festival officially opens with a Gospel program followed by dancers, local bands, singers and National headliners have included Jazz singer and musician Pamela Williams and R&B recording stars SOS Band have participated.  Exhibits ranging from historical i.e.  The Rosewood exhibit Black History traveling exhibits from New York and the local Harn Museum.

On the third day exhibits open at noon followed by a relaxed Sunday afternoon of jazz and reggae on stage from bands locally and nationally.

The Festival a part of a permanent exhibit at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and is listed in Florida Black Heritage trails. The Festival has also been recognized by local and national elected officials.

Sponsors of the Festival have included local government agencies, Cox , Nationwide, Gainesville Sun ,Mercedes-Benz, American Airlines, Shands, Santa Fe and the Univ of Fl, local organizations i.e. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc, and many more.  The Festival has enjoyed a long a fruitful relationship with individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the City and County of Alachua.

Many travel to Gainesville each year to the Festival; Family reunions have been planned around the Festival