LIVINGSTON -- The 16th annual Multicultural Festival will feature a free fish fry, music and dancing Monday, Jan. 18, at Livingston Junior High. The event began in Livingston with the new century to celebrate and honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Those in attendance as the doors open at 4 p.m. will be treated to nearly five hours of entertainment. An estimated 2,000 people from around the county are expected to attend what organizer Pastor Howard Daniel Jr. said has grown over the years.
"This is our 16th year for the Multicultural Festival," Daniel said. "Number one, we wanted to do a tribute to Dr. King and we wanted to use local talent to do that."
Daniel said the festival was built on three tiers.
"The first tier was a health fair. We wanted to offer people the opportunity to come and enjoy a free health fair. Now the hospital does that for us every year. It would cost $150 at a doctor's office if you were to walk in there. In addition to that, there is a free catfish dinner for everyone with all the trimmings. There is no charge for anything at all. The third tier is local entertainment."
Improved interaction with all people is something Daniel hopes will come from the event.
"We need to lose our fear of each other, learn better race relations and learn how to get along a little bit better. It has been very successful and beyond my expectations. We draw around anywhere from 2,000 and up. This year there is a special feature where we will salute our law enforcement and firefighters — who happened to be 100-years-old this year. I just got off the phone with DPS Commander Phillip Steen, who is the regional commander for the entire East Texas area. He will come to do a tribute to Dr. King. I have asked our state representative, James White, to do a salute to law enforcement and firefighters. We are expecting a great crowd and a great time. It is my mission to go out and collect money, so we can put on the event."
Glen Lindemann is coming from Lufkin and will provide basic entertainment during the meal hour, as will John and Nelda Flanagan from North Texas. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe is always part of the show and Daniel promises there will be a group from the African American community and Hispanic community as well.
"The idea was to have a level playing field one day, so everything is free," Daniel said.
The health fair starts around 4 p.m., while the catfish dinner will begin around 5 p.m. and end at 6:30 p.m. The main program will begin after the meal and end at approximately 8:30 p.m.
The Sheriff's Department will do all the cooking for the catfish dinners and there will be chicken available for those who would like something different. The Livingston High School Junior ROTC will post the colors for the event.