The Peace Festival is returning to Fulton this Saturday.
The family friendly event is scheduled for 9 a.m.-noon at Carver Park in Fulton, said organizer and Smokin’ Loud Cuisine owner Alan Lawson. He promised live music from local bands, an array of local vendors and plenty of home-cooked barbecue.
All are welcome, Lawson said.
“The Peace Festival was put together 22 years ago,” he said. “It originated from Park Day, which my older brother and (his friends) used to do when I was a toddler.”
In 1997, Lawson and some of his friends started an organization to help at-risk youth stay out of trouble.
“We changed the name of Park Day to Peace Festival and tried to put a little more structure to it,” he said. “Our goals were empower each other and help get businesses up and going.”
Lawson noted, at the time, the Fulton Street Fair was still called Kingdom Days — a reference to an incident during the Civil War when Callaway County militia negotiated to keep Union soldiers out of the county, essentially declaring the county a sovereign state in the process.
The vocal nostalgia for a time when white Callawegians still held slaves and aligned with the Confederacy made some community members uncomfortable, Lawson said.
“We thought that wasn’t appropriate for the African-American community, given what the Kingdom of Callaway stood for at the time,” he said. “So we had the Peace Festival on the same weekend as Kingdom Days to give the black community an open door and someplace they felt comfortable.”
Kingdom Days’ name was changed to the Fulton Street Fair shortly afterward, he added.
Though Lawson’s at-risk youth organization disbanded long ago, the Peace Festival is still going strong. He emphasized that though Fulton’s black community started the event and is still at its heart, all community members are welcome to attend.
“We try to open it up to let Mid-Missouri entrepreneurs set up and sell things, from cologne to T-shirts to purses,” he said. “We do live entertainment with local artists trying to promote their music. We try to get the fire station involved to do tours of fire trucks.”
Musicians from Fulton, Columbia, Jefferson City, Boonville and Moberly will be playing all morning, he said.
Lawson described the event as a giant picnic with many people bringing their own lawn chairs and sharing freshly grilled food.
“It’s like a big family reunion for the Mid-Missouri African-American community,” he said.