The FAM JAM! Family, Arts and Music Festival Returns to Worcester late this week both in person at the city’s Elm Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, as well as digitally through virtual spaces and livestreams on Thursday, Sept. 22, and Friday, Sept. 23.
Organized by founder Geoffrey Killebrew — a vendor and a musician who also works in the school system — the festival started out in 2019 to help promote local vendors as well as a chance for Killebrew’s private music students to perform for the community, the group said.
Since then, the annual festival has grown to give opportunities and support to other artists, community members and entrepreneurs, both local and more far-reaching, according to Killebrew, who said that the festival and its nonprofit, FAM Jam Event Group, have an emphasis is on serving underserved communities.
From 6 pm to 8 pm on Thursday and Friday, live-streamed musical performances will take place which viewers can tune into on FAM JAM!’s social media as well as Unity 97.9 FM’s Facebook page.
During these livestreams Killebrew said viewers can also join Zoom calls featuring vendors promoting their products and services alongside youth and family-oriented community Nonprofits in Worcester.
The goal of the virtual format is to provide broader audiences for performers as well as to connect vendors and nonprofits with community members and give them as much exposure as possible, Killebrew said.
Musical performances will consist of a mix of artists young and old in addition to a variety of genres from rap, to R&B, to jazz and acoustic guitar, Killebrew added.
Then on Saturday, the in-person portion of the festival takes place in Worcester’s Elm Park from noon until 8 pm
Performances will be an open-mic format “for the community, featuring the community,” Killebrew said, inviting anyone to showcase their talents whether it be singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument.
Killebrew explained that back in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic that many Festivals were looking for ways to continue in on virtual platforms, and from his own work using such tools, he said he wanted to use these platforms in a more creative way to help promote and highlight nonprofits, performers and entrepreneurs, wherever they may be.
Killebrew said he also hopes to use this week’s festival as a launching point for more regular virtual calls between underserved portions of the Central Mass. community and vendors and Nonprofits as part of FAM JAM! Event Group’s mission.
Killebrew said that as Worcester experiences its own renaissance, its benefits are not always being experienced by historically underserved communities which have been subject to redlining in the past and now increasing gentrification.
He added that his nonprofit is taking inspiration from the Harlem Renaissance in New York, and is looking to get street performers and vendors placed in high foot-traffic areas of Worcester to help get greater exposure for these up-and-coming acts and Emerging entrepreneurs .
“One of the lowest bars to get a business started is to be a vendor,” Killebrew said. “So we want to give our vendors as many opportunities as possible to be successful.”
FAM JAM! Event Group said as part of its growth that it hopes to hold more events each year for community members to gather in order to “advance the burgeoning Renaissance of Worcester for years to come.”