Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival returns a year after being canceled due to COVID-19

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 11:26 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival made its way back to the Grand Strand on Friday, after being one of many events canceled last year due to COVID-19.

The three-day event is taking place on Carver Street in Myrtle Beach just outside of Charlie’s Place.

Mickey James, one of the event’s organizers, said holding off on last year’s festival was a difficult decision.

“It was really rough, I hated it but the disease was so bad,” he said.

James explained that the process of getting the festival back up and running this year was a lot of work, which included getting the sponsors and vendors back on board.

However, he said it’s all worth it because he’s expecting a huge turnout of up to 8,000 people to attend this year.

James said while many people are excited to get back out and enjoy the live music, they’ll also have an opportunity to support even more local businesses as more than 20 vendors are participating.

That’s more than double compared to years past.

“Economically, a lot of people are having a difficult time financially,” he said. “This brings in more economic development in our community, and also for Myrtle Beach, particularly to the vendors.”

Iniki’s Creations Cakes & Treats is one of the vendors at the jazz festival. Isiah Vereen’s daughter owns the business and says the family does all they can to help out and support her with it flourishing.

It’s also the first time they’re participating at the festival, and Vereen says events like this are one reason business has been good this year.

“Based on last year with the COVID, it kind of set us back pretty bad,” Vereen said. “Overall, it comes back with a brighter and better year this year, I’m excited.”

Vonda Johnson, owner of AS&J Fashion, said this is also her first time being set up at the festival. She also explained how important it is for the community to offer these types of events, giving residents and opportunity to support shops in their neighborhoods.

“Let’s support our local businesses. Let’s get out and support each other,” Johnson said. “It’s so important that we continue this going on.”

The jazz festival also brought out some familiar faces, including “Vee’s Wings and Things” Owners Veronica and Byron Gilliard said business has been good this ear, but they’re happy to see more benefiting from the return of live events.

“It’s a lot of people’s livelihood,” Byron said. “Fortunately for us, it’s not our livelihood but it’s very important to have stuff like this.”

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