May 4, 2021

PRESS RELEASE – Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park Announces Events for May 2021

Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park Announces Events for May 2021

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – May 4, 2021 – Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park is proud to host events in James Weldon Johnson Park located at 135 W. Monroe Street in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville. All activities listed below are free and open to the public.




Cajun Fest with Flow Tribe

Saturday, May 8 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park is excited to announce a new FREE festival coming to the park in May of 2021. CAJUN FEST will feature the best in New Orleans style food and music. Food trucks such as The Gumbo Man, JAG Boilers-Crawfish, Zydeco Cajun Grill, Frozen Sweets Truck and DoughMeeka’s Kitchen will feature Cajun and Creole dishes such as shrimp and grits, crab boil and beignets.


Music will include Bill “The Sauce Boss” Wharton, who cooks gumbo while he plays blues slide guitar, local band Let’s Ride Brass Band featuring their Duval Sound and New Orleans Funk & Soul outfit Flow Tribe.


The concert presented with partner Yaya Productions will feature socially distant pods, with VIP pods available for purchase. Masks will be required of all guests entering and exiting their pods.


Click here for more info


Emancipation Celebration Day

Thursday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman, James Weldon Johnson Park and the City of Jacksonville are excited to announce the first annual Jacksonville Emancipation Celebration. The festival will take place on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in an effort to educate the community about the historical significance of Florida’s observed Emancipation Day.


Jacksonville’s Emancipation Celebration will feature local African American food trucks and vendors, live performances from Jacksonville’s best musicians, dancers and poets, fun activities for the kids, a Community Art Project and a historical display. Local historical organizations will also lend their expertise to weave educational stories throughout the performances and activities. The festival will begin at 11 a.m. and close out at 8 p.m. at James Weldon Johnson Park.


Click here for more info


Sunshine Happy Hour

Friday, May 21 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.


Join us for Sunshine Happy Hour to benefit the James Weldon Johnson Sculpture Project! Our Sunshine Happy Hour will feature live music by Big Papa Fish, delicious cocktails and food trucks, plus the UNF Sculpture Team will be on hand to answer questions about the artwork!

Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park has made great strides over the last five years to make the park clean, safe and hospitable for our entire community. In addition to the lunchtime programming and weekend festivals and concerts, we have improved the esthetics of the park through our Sculpture Project. Launching in 2019 via a generous gift from Preston Haskell, we partnered with Jenny Hager and her talented sculpture students at UNF Art & Design. Each year until 2024, UNF Sculpture students create three sculptures to be installed in James Weldon Johnson Park for a period of one year. Last year, with the pandemic requiring UNF to discontinue on-site classes, the sculpture student’s work was delayed, but they are finally being installed in the park!

Instead of saying goodbye to our 2019 sculptures, we’d like to retain two of the three sculptures to further enhance the beauty of the park. However, the purchase and maintenance of our sculptures come solely from the funds we raise through our Sculpture Project Fund. Our fundraising goal for this mission is $10,000, which will be utilized for paying the artists for their work as well as new artwork bases and plaques. We invite you to make a donation to our Sculpture Project Fund. It will go a long way to ensure our goal of continuously adding new art to enrich our downtown park.

Here are ways to make a donation:

  • Write a check to I-3 Jax, Inc. and mail it to: “Sculpture Project Fund” 214 N Hogan St Suite 114, Jacksonville, FL 32202
    • Visit make a secure donation online.
    • Join us at the Sunshine Happy Hour on May 21st at 4pm

Click here for the donation page

Click here for more info

Live at Lunch:


Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park hosts live music from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday music is sponsored by Jax Vision Care.


Here is the full line up of musicians for May:


May 5: Joe Watts

May 7: Stephen Pigman Vibrations

May 10: The Suedes

May 12: Joe Watts

May 14: The 77ds

May 17: Paul Ivey

May 19: Joe Watts

May 21: Big Papa Fish

May 24: Lauren Fincham

May 25: Jake Schuman

May 26: Joe Watts

May 28: The Groove Coalition



Bluegrass, Beer & BBQ

Saturday, June 19 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Your favorite James Weldon Johnson Park summer festival is back! Join us for Bluegrass, Beer and Barbecue in June of 2021.


Pig out on delicious food from baby-back ribs to corn on the cob served by Jacksonville’s best barbecue trucks such as K-Bop Jax, Butthutt Smokehouse, Twisted Okie and the Icy Spot. knock back a few cold ones from Champion Brands Inc. Featured breweries will include Intuition, Veteran’s United, Sierra Nevada and White Claw.


Live music will feature local favorites Cain’t Never Could, Ft Pierce’s Pubgrass band Uproot Hootenanny and Jacksonville’s own Firewater Tent Revival.


The concert presented by Friends of James Weldon Johnson and Yaya Productions is free to attend. Masks and social distancing are encouraged.


Click here for more info


About Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park

Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park (FOFJWJP), originally Friends of Hemming Park, is a non-profit organization created in 2014 with funding from the City of Jacksonville to revitalize the city’s first and most historic public park. Its mission is to transform James Weldon Johnson Park into a modern, urban space that engages diverse communities and restore vitality to our city’s public square. This is accomplished by adding and maintaining landscaping and amenities and providing daily programming. In its six and a half years of managing the park, FOJWJP has created a hospitable atmosphere with updated landscaping that is maintained daily, a kid zone, a sculpture garden, a food truck court, and live music performances during lunch hours, while still being compassionate towards our homeless population. Several weekends throughout the year, we offer family-friendly festivals that highlight people of all cultures, embrace history, and use the performing and visual arts as a tool to engage and educate our visitors.