MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Organizers are calling the 2016 First Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival a huge success, and plans are in the works to bring the event back, but they are making changes to make it bigger and better.
Last year, the streets of the Booker T. Washington area of Myrtle Beach was filled with people, nearly 4,000 to be exact, that showed up for the Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival. Greg James, Chairman, of the Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival says the huge turnout was not expected.
"I think we were kind of overwhelmed last year; we really didn't expect it to be that many people, and for them to show up the way they did, we really expect it to be a lot of people this year, we're aiming for about 10,000," explained James.
James' father, Mickey James, President of the Myrtle Beach NAACP, created the event as a way to help revitalize the Booker T. Washington area, however, James says they are bringing the festival back this year, and instead of a one-day event, it will now be a three-day festival, and at a new location.
James added, "It's actually going to be three days and its going to be where old mall site, where Myrtle Square Mall used to be."
The city of Myrtle Beach also approved $30,000 in ATAX money to be used for the event.
"We've got a lot of entertainment out there, we've got T-Ray from New Orleans, he's actually a great violinist, Marcus Anderson, the saxophonist - he was actually Prince's saxophonist for many years - he will be out there as well. We'll have a lot of local, regional and national artists as well," said James.
James says the details of this year's festival are still in the works, but the festival will still be free, the beer and wine garden will be available, and the goal is to have more than 60 vendors on hand.
James said, "It was meant to revitalize the Carver Street, this is big, this is going to be big for Myrtle Beach, you know we have the Country Music Festival here, we just want to be put heads in beds, and do something for the community."
At one time, Carver Street in the Booker T. Washington area, was the hub for music and dancing, and James says he wants the Myrtle Beach Jazz festival to show people the rich history and culture still exists.
"It's all about culture, we want to build culture that's one thing that kind of lacks here, it's a tourist town but at the same time, we want to have something for the community to embrace and I think the Jazz festival can do that," said James.