THE FIRST ACT: Jazz musician Rick Hicks, of Muskegon, starts off the Idlewild Homecoming on Saturday.
The episode featured five acts and brought out at least 500 people.
IDLEWILD — John Meeks wanted to create an event which brought all the advantages of Idlewild together.
After several years of preparation and hard work, Saturday’s Idlewild Homecoming started, with five jazz performers and 500 individuals coming to watch.
“Idlewild, in 100 decades, hasn’t had a homecoming where everyone comes back, rub shoulders, breaks bread, has a drink, listens to great live entertainment and has a lot of good pleasure,” Meeks said.
Meeks, president of the Idlewild African-American Chamber of Commerce, began working on developing a private park in the heart of community, together with park benches for sitting, room for vendors and a stage for performers.
“The neighborhood is support and donating with this 100 percent,” he explained. “We had a bus load of people come up from Detroit, this was well-advertised.”
The room paid for the entertainment and equipment and accepted donations for the event.
Melvin Hayes, of Chicago, regularly travels to Idlewild. As someone who grew up in the area in the 50s, he enjoys seeing a resurgence in the community.
“In the early 50s, Idlewild was the place to be,” he explained.”
“Is it likely to catch on? We do not really know. That’s going to go by way of mouth.”
It even brought out somebody who had only heard about Idlewild through history. She arrived into the Saturday event on a whim.
“I chose I have never been and there is a festival, let us do it,” she explained. “I am impressed.”
As she drove through the neighborhood she recognized several old businesses out of photographs.
Yates Township Supervisor Ronald Griffin said the occasion shines a spotlight on the community and that he wishes to see it continue.
“We are trying to get people to return here, invest locally and buy property,” he said.
Before the beginning of the event, performers had told Meeks that they would like to be involved in next year’s event. He has started planning.
“It will be two days next year,” Meeks said.