CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Multi-Cultural Festival of West Virginia, known as Multifest, has had a rough couple of years.
In 2013, treasurer Deborah Starks pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $300,000 from Multifest funds and was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison, and last year James Foster was shot at a (unaffiliated) pre-Multifest party at Timothy’s Bar.
But the multicultural festival’s bad luck changed this weekend.
Thousands of people flocked to the state Capitol Complex this weekend to enjoy live music by renowned artists, sample different cultural cuisines and appreciate the company of neighbors, friends and loved ones.
Dallas Staples, president of Multifest’s board of directors, said this year the board was focused on moving forward from these events and creating a better festival for the community.
“We can’t live in the past because there’s nothing anybody can do about that. We don’t want to have it be a cloud that continually hangs over Multifest. We have to look forward,” he said.
“I think that goes along with life itself — there’s nothing you can do about the past and people make mistakes. There’s no benefit to dwelling on the negatives.”
Staples said Multifest gives Charleston residents an opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate our diversity. Instead of seeing the city as one big melting pot, he said he sees it like a big bowl of salad.
“I see it as being together but nobody loses their identity — a carrot is a carrot, a tomato is a tomato, and so on, but at the same time they all come together to make a great salad,” he said. “And the more ingredients you have in a salad the better it is.
“So I think diversity is such a rich asset to communities if they take advantage of it. I think this is an opportunity to showcase diversity and come together as a community.”
David Fryson, the vice president of West Virginia University division of diversity, equity and inclusion, said when he discovered that Multifest was going to be canceled three weeks ago he met with the board and encouraged the university to help sponsor the festival.
In only three weeks WVU worked closely with board members to put together all of the acts for the festival, which included rapper Doug E. Fresh, American rhythm and blues singer Kelly Price and American gospel music singer-songwriter Tye Tribbett…