NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE
DALLAS — KwanzaaFest is an annual event that activist Thomas Muhammad helped found. It draws tens of thousands of people to Fair Park every second weekend in December.
But News 8 has learned the cultural celebration is taking the year off.
“2013 looks like it's not going to happen,” Muhammad said.
More than two decades ago, Muhammad, Commissioner John Wiley Price, and others first decided to find a way to showcase African-American businesses during the holiday season.
KwanzaaFest was born, but Commissioner Price's legal troubles are likely what killed it.
Federal investigators continue to examine Price's finances with court documents alleging the commissioner committed conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering.
He has not been charged with any crime.
“Because of the aura, a couple of corporate sponsors quite naturally don't want to be exposed to negative media," Muhammad said. "Some of them pulled out, and I think that had a lot to do with passing this up at this time."
But the cancellation is more than just a disappointment at missing the concerts and shopping that go along with the event.
HealthFest — which runs as a part of KwanzaaFest — provided everything from HIV testing to free vision screenings for for those who might only see a doctor at this event.
“That's going to be a serious loss to the Dallas community, who every year for over 20 years have come to this venue to get health services,” said Dallas County Health and Human Services director Dr. Zachary Thompson.
He said the department hasn’t been formally notified that the 2013 event is off.
Commissioner Price's website still has KwanzaaFest on the schedule for December 14-15, and Fair Park says it’s still holding those dates open for the event.
Muhammad said the KwanzaaFest committee made the decision to cancel very recently. He was notified Sunday via text message.
News 8 has learned that others were notified by letter.
Muhammad hopes to bring KwanzaaFest back in 2014. "I think the decision just finally came down we need to take a breather, hold up, rebuild, and come back," he said.