(Newark, NJ) – On Saturday June 20, 2020, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the African American Caribbean Cultural Organization of Essex County (AACCOEC), hosted the 10th Annual Weequahic Park House Music Festival. The event is a yearly showcase of talented House Music artists who perform in front of crowds of up to 10,000 people every summer in Weequahic Park. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event could not be held in its traditional fashion. However, Essex County Freeholder Rufus I. Johnson and other event organizers and artists were determined to keep the tradition going and broadcast the event virtually.

Freeholder Johnson stated, “An event of this size was quite an undertaking, but through the hard work of organizers, staffers, and volunteers, we were able to coordinate the setup and performances of nine talented artists and DJs to deliver an outstanding show to the masses.” He continued, “I would like to thank our County Executive Joe DiVincenzo for his support in moving forward with this project, and trusting we would be able to provide a first class festival in a virtual format, which has become our new normal.”

“The House Music Festival has become a much-anticipated event. We usually are gathered in Weequahic Park to hear great music, gather with close friends and enjoy a memorable day in a beautiful park. My thanks go to Freeholder Rufus Johnson and Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson for their creative thinking and hard work to continue this community tradition on-line,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said.

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The Weequahic Park Music Festival is a free event held each year with the intention of bringing the residents of Newark and the surrounding communities together. With the onset of COVID-19 and social distancing, many similar festivals have been postponed indefinitely and/or cancelled. Undaunted by these circumstances, the Freeholder Office staff of Lionel Leach, Lillian Torres, and Kyle Whitted worked tirelessly to coordinate the event from a technical and logistical standpoint. The silver lining of the extra work needed to broadcast the event virtually was the opportunity for the festival to reach an even wider audience. This was not lost on Freeholder Johnson, and it added a new significance to this year’s event.

“We are without question living in a new normal.” Freeholder Johnson stated, “It is unfortunate that large gatherings of people in the same physical space has become dangerous for our health and well-being, but I felt this was a great opportunity for people from all over the world to come together through our love for music, and celebrate as one large community.”  

The festival lasted a total of 10 hours and 43 minutes and was seen live by 7,489 unique users from China, UK, Hong Kong, South America, Africa and the United States. Since Saturday, it has been viewed by an additional 6,839 individual accounts. It can be viewed on the AACCOEC’s website, www.aaccoec.org, and the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders Facebook Page @EssexCountyFreeholders.