WILLINGBORO — Officials knew it would be hard to top last year’s jazz festival, the 30th anniversary of the township’s most popular event, but they believe this year’s lineup will do the trick.
The 31st annual Willingboro Jazz Festival is scheduled for noon to about 10:30 p.m. Sunday at Millcreek Park off Beverly-Rancocas Road, and this year’s installment will include some new features, including fireworks to end festivities and a VIP ticket for $40 that will cover premium parking, seating, a catered meal, and photo with artists. An area of seating will be reserved for these ticketholders, but they are still asked to bring their own chairs.
“Everyone was asking us last year, how are you going to top this one? I think we did,” said Jill Cyrus, the township’s director of recreation. “I think we pulled together some great names people can identify, and of course, keeping the local acts. ... I’m just excited we have this great lineup.”
Included among the musical acts are Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist/flautist Najee; hip-hop artist Chubb Rock; Philly native Gerald Veasley, a jazz bassist; UGO; Cintron; Grace Little; Everyday People; T-Chin and the Roof Top Band; The Arpeggio Band; Marley in the Rock; and Captain Rock.
“We’re in competition with a lot of people that have jazz festivals,” Cyrus said. “We wanted to step up our game.”
Fireworks, which are sponsored by state Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, will end festivities. Also, there will be moon bounces and face painting for children, and families can bring blankets, chairs, tents and charcoal grills.
The event is free but it costs $15 to park inside the park. The VIP tickets were added this year to guarantee people premium seating and parking. They can be ordered in advance by calling 609-877-2200, ext. 1111.
Cyrus said the festival is always a popular destination for families wanting to get together for a reunion or to mark other special occasions. There will be a separate area for tents for those who want to make an all-day event. It will be held rain or shine, unless there is a “torrential” downpour, she added.
“It’s going to be great,” said recreation supervisor Kendall Brunson. “The coolest thing about the jazz festival this year is the variety of music we have. I think we’ve changed the design of a jazz festival.”
Brunson said there will be jazz, hip-hop, reggae, R&B and other types of music featured. Also, DJ Kam and radio personality MoShay LaRen, who has roots in Willingboro, will provide entertainment between sets.
Also new this year, the township has added a pre-party to be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Willingboro Town Center off Route 130. The event, held in the amphitheater-like section at the center of the complex, will include live bands, food, a disc jockey and festival merchandise for sale.
Cyrus said the Township Council budgeted $50,000 in funds for the festival, but that officials hope to recoup much of that money.
For more information, visit www.willingborojazzfestival.com