‘It was a great experience’: Jacksonville Jazz Festival’s impact felt throughout city

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — All weekend, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival has attracted tens of thousands of locals and tourists to the River City.

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Sunday is the final day, but the hustle and bustle downtown has given the entire area some extra attention.

“It’s a good environment,” Jacksonville resident Dr. Kenyatta Lee said. “So, I do think it’ll help Jacksonville grow.”

He and his wife, LaQuita, say they have been to several Jacksonville Jazz Festivals throughout the years.

“I’m not sure how many cities offer free jazz events like this,” LaQuita said. “I think it’s amazing that Jacksonville is offering this type of event for free for the community.”

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Action News Jax also spoke with Keith Phelps, one of the touring keyboardists, for Patti LaBelle.

“I think post-COVID this is really exciting,” Phelps said. “It’s great for people to be able to come out, just get back to music and congregate and the things that make us feel good.”

Phelps said he loves to see how jazz music brings people together and looks forward to an exciting final day.

“I’ll be closing the festival out with her this evening,” Phelps said.

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The lineup has attracted tens of thousands of people daily.

Anthony Raters is the front of the house manager at Uptown Kitchen & Bar, an already busy spot just a mile from the Jacksonville Jazz Festival activity.

“We love it,” Raters said. “We love bringing this life back to the city. Downtown needs more of this. We just love having these events come through.”

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Executive Chef Kevin Williamson has brought some major New Orleans flavor to the restaurant; it is something new and returning customers have raved about, including this weekend.

“It’s being in contact with people that come to eat at this restaurant because they’ve been looking for something like this for a minute,” Williams said. “So my passion and their love for food just makes it one big happy family that comes together.”

Tourists and locals say they’re optimistic about the city’s future.

Keith Hunt traveled from Clermont with his family and said he watched an incredible performance by Stephanie Mills.

“Jacksonville is a wonderful city,” Hunt said. “I would like to come back and see more of the city and see what Jacksonville has to offer.”

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Organizers say the Jacksonville Jazz Festival is one of the largest free music festivals in the country.

“It’s right on the river,” Kenyatta said. “The backdrop is just unparalleled. To have this as a resource really brings the community and the city together. It’s peaceful, clean and family friendly. It was a great experience.”

Councilman Reggie Gaffney of District 7, shared his thoughts on Sunday.

“I’m so excited that the last three days have been a big hit,” Gaffney said. “Tonight is going to be even better. I just like what the City of Jacksonville is doing when it comes to understanding what it takes to bring our community together. I believe we need to do more of these.”

The final day of the festival will run Sunday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

To learn more about the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, CLICK HERE.

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