Tens of thousands of people of color from all over South Florida and across the country descended upon Miramar for Pepsi’s 2016 Funk Fest
Good music, good people and good times were in full effect for New Year’s Day 2016 (Photos by Ron Lyons)
By Nelson Underdue
The festivities began at 2 p.m. Saturday as an abundance of different accents, dialects, backgrounds and cultures began filing into Miramar Regional Park in droves. The feeling was that of a family reunion as Blacks who had never met before greeted each other with “Hey cuz!”, “How you doing brother!” and of course, the obligatory, “Happy New Year!” The big family atmosphere was all but confirmed by the smell of barbecue, roasted corn, fried fish, conch and a plethora of other delicious foods filling the open air from the vendors that lined the park with temptation.
The evening continued with a scholarship presentation to a local high schooler, followed by a performance by Demetria McKinney of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and The Real Housewives of Atlanta fame. The show continued with performances from late ‘90’s and early 2000’s R&B male groups Silk and Jagged Edge, respectively.
After the soulful singing, the energy exploded to a new but familiar level as Florida based rap groups 95 South, (Jacksonville) The 2 Live Crew, (Miami) 69 Boyz (Jacksonville) and Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell took the stage for a Miami Bass Reunion, performing songs that revolutionized hip hop in the late ‘80s and throughout the 90s. “We at the crib,” Campbell exclaimed to his hometown fans as he performed hits like Doodoo Brown and Raise the Roof as South Florida reminisced on days of old.
The City of Miami Gardens, who has been hosting a similar event for over a decade, the Jazz in the Gardens concert weekend, had their mayor, Oscar Braynen in attendance showing his support. “As Black people, our purchasing power is sometimes devalued.” said Braynen in reference to the Funk Fest, “This is our money and our tourism dollars that drive these economies and whether we have something in Miami Gardens or Miramar, we have to support one another and I think we did a great job of doing that tonight.”
The nostalgia continued with rap legend Doug E. Fresh, followed by a dynamic performance from Fantasia. The show ended with a medley from New Edition. Miramar’s first Black Mayor, Wayne Messam, promises more to come. “Funk Fest is just the first in a long list of entertainment opportunities we have here in the City of Miramar,” said Messam. “I’m all about progress. This is just the beginning.” (Photos by Ron Lyons)