Billboard-Charting Acts And Local Businesses Star At Maywood Fest

Sunday, September 16, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: A young child dances on the outdoor dance floor during Maywood Fest on Saturday. | Shanel Romain 

The annual Maywood Fest, held Sept. 14 through Sept. 16, attracted small business owners from within the village and beyond it.

May Disse, an online-based professional Henne artist, was lured to this year’s fest by one of the organizers, Randall McFarland.

“He ran into me at a festival in the South Loop and asked me to come out,” said Disse, who was on hand to create temporary Henne tattoos (Henne is a plant-based dye). “I really enjoy it here, because it’s all about the community and I love the people.”

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May Disse works on a Henne tattoo with photographer Shanel Romain. | VFP 

Nzinga Nommo, the owner of Afriware Books, an independent bookstore in Maywood — one of the oldest black-owned bookstores in the country — sponsored a screening of “Black Panther” during the first day of the fest on Friday.

The screening accompanied a discussion about the film and featured people dressed as characters from the movie.

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A woman with the music group Forever Undefined performs at Maywood Fest on Saturday. | Shanel Romain 

Nommo said that this year’s fest, which was the first time her business had a presence at the event, was a reminder of what makes the village special.

“Of all the places Afriware has been, Maywood is the the place that is most like home,” she said. “We’ve had mayors visit the store … Maywood is on the up to me, and the best-kept secret is the people, the spirit of the people.”

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A crowd of people watches musical performances during Maywood Fest on Saturday. | Shanel Romain 

Samantha Redmond, the owner of Samantha’s Sweet Treats, came from Hillside to display her cupcakes, cakes and other desserts. Her mother-in-law, Maywood resident and frequent board meeting attendee Lucille Redmond, helped her out in the booth.

“I do a variety of all types of sweets,” Samantha said, adding that, like Disse, virtually all of her business is conducted online.

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Lucille Redmond and Samantha Redmond, owner of Samantha’s Sweet Treats, during Maywood Fest on Saturday. | VFP 

Michael Robinson, an employee of Surf’s Up, which has multiple locations, including one in Maywood, said that this year’s fest a first for the business, which served up its tasty fried green tomatoes, fried shrimp, fish and chicken.

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Michael Robinson, far right, serves up Surf’s Up at Maywood Fest on Saturday. | VFP 

“The fest has been treating us well,” Robinson said on Saturday. “This has been a successful seafood restaurant in Maywood for four years now. We just want to support the community as the community supports us.”

Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley said that this year’s fest was an evolution from last year’s.

“I can see that its a lot larger than it was last year,” he said. “More food services are out here. The mayor and her staff did an excellent job. I’m happy with it.”

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A young girl plays on an inflatable contraption during Maywood Fest. | Shanel Romain 

Ray Williams, one of the organizers of the fest who facilitated security for the event, said on Saturday afternoon that his team had not experienced any safety incidents — better for residents to enjoy the weekend’s musical acts.

Many of the performers, such as Maywood native and Grammy-nominated saxophonist D-Erania, and recording artist John Blu, are Proviso Township natives who have made it big.  

Blu — a singer, songwriter and producer signed with Jive Records — has worked with artists like DJ Khaled, Twista, Jeremih and Future. The Bellwood native’s breakout hit, “In Love with Your Booty,” reached #32 on Billboard’s R&B charts in 2010.

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Recording artist John Blu right before he performed at Maywood Fest on Saturday. | VFP 

“Never give up, keep yourself grounded, stay humble, be careful of the team you put around you and stay consistent,” said Blu, when asked what advice he’d offer young artists who may want to follow his path to the Billboard charts.

Blu’s most recent album, “Sacrifice Before Success,” seemed to encapsulate a creed he’s applied to his successful career. 

“It’s about the blood, sweat and tears you put into your passion,” he said. VFP 

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One thought on “Billboard-Charting Acts And Local Businesses Star At Maywood Fest”

  1. I was the third day at the Maywood Festival on a Sunday, and was completely blown away by the turnout. It was ten times better than last year. A major shout out to the big sponsors like “Pepsi,” “MB Financial Bank” for investing this festival. It was amazing to see a lot of residents coming out, and having so much pride in their community. I hope that next year will be better, successful, and bigger!

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