SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thousands anticipated the grand return of the three day Stone Soul Festival at Springfield’s Blunt Park, and the community came from all over to take part in this community event.

Some say this festival is the final hurrah of the summer! Many excited to celebrate after a two year hiatus due to the pandemic. It’s an easy day of eating, greeting and meeting new and old family and friends.

Christopher Scott, the coordinator of the event, told 22News, “After COVID, this is going to be a big event because people haven’t been out in a couple of years, so we really are anticipating a great turn out.”

The Stone Soul Festival began in 1989 as a community reunion picnic aimed at gathering together the Mason Square Community. Since then it has become New England’s largest African-American festival that celebrates and encompasses Springfield’s vibrant community.

“It’s nice to get back out again because, you know, for two years we were pretty much shut down, we weren’t doing this type of activity,” said Wayman Lee, president of CREW, a local non-profit. “So now we’re out doing it and we can help more people in the community by doing what we’re doing now.”

The festival provides family orientated activities, local entertainment, food, and performances that are culturally enriching.

Drew Keatonel, secretary of CREW said, “The makeup of Springfield with black and brown folks, if you look at Springfield, is almost 60, 70%. It’s very important for us to express ourselves, and we can do it through cultural events. It’s an expression of the community within itself.”

The Stone Soul Festival reunites the community with former Springfield residents who return on Labor Day weekend to renew acquaintances and relationships at Blunt Park decade after decade.

“Every part of the event is to see people that I haven’t seen from around the country in years.” Scott said. “We will have a chance to meet and greet people we haven’t seen in a long time, to mend some old wounds, and to heal.”

This three day festival continues into the weekend with more food vendors, local artists, even a gospel concert at the picnic on Sunday!