Jubilee festival will take place on Selmont side of bridge

Published 9:30 pm Monday, February 27, 2017

Organizers of the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee have decided to move Saturday’s street festival to private property after city officials didn’t budge on charging for city services.

Sam Walker, one of the event’s organizers, announced Monday at a press conference the festival would be held on private property on the Selmont side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“We’ll have a full festival, but it will just be in a new location,” Walker said. “People have planned all year to come to this event, so to jump up and say we’re not going to have it at the last minute is unacceptable. People had already planned to come, so there was no thought of canceling it.”

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The decision came after the city made a final offer last Friday to bring the total cost to have the event down from about $35,000 to $17,000.

That bill included police, fire and cleanup services, but organizers rejected it because it required them to divide the street festival, one of the Jubilee’s biggest events, into two parts on Water Avenue.

“As the results of that decision, we have decided to relocate the entire music festival to the Montgomery side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on private property, so there will be no city interference,” Walker said.

The street festival, which has around 20 acts scheduled to perform and dozens of vendors, will take place near the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge near the Bridge House Theater.

“We’ll have a stage near this end, but we’ll also have a stage down at the other end of the private property,” Walker said. “The vendors will be positioned inbetween so people can walk back and forth between the two stages.”

According to property records, the land for the festival is owned by the National Voting Rights Museum and the Sanders Toure Gaines Family Foundation.

The main stage will be near the Selma Curb Market, where B.E.T. had a stage set up during the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 2015. The other stage will be closer to the bridge.

Walker said there was no way organizers were going to agree to the city’s final offer of $17,000.

“The bill, number one is unacceptable, but the idea of relocating and splitting the festival up is even more ridiculous,” Walker said.

Walker said the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department plans to help with security, as well as private security.

“We’ll have adequate security. Let’s put it that way,” Walker said.

Dallas County Probate Judge and Commission Chairman Kim Ballard said the county contributes each year to the Jubilee because of the tourism it brings.

“We’ve always contributed,” Ballard said. “Tourism is important, very important.”

Phone calls to Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman for comment were not returned Monday.

Walker said the only other changes organizers had to make was canceling the children’s march that was scheduled for Friday and moving the Miss Jubilee Pageant.

“The event got canceled because of the controversy,” Walker said. “There was so much back and forth about whether this was not going to happen or if it was going to happen, so the schools were confused, and many of them called in and didn’t want to be in the middle of a controversy.”

The pageant was moved from the School of Discovery to Wallace Community College Selma.

“We were committed not to let this die and to continue having this event, so there was never a question of if we were going to have the event because we’ve been doing it for 25 years,” Walker said.

The Jubilee starts Thursday and will continue through Sunday.