Honoring the Past. Celebrating the Present. Embracing the Future.

Lexington Roots & Heritage Festival Celebrates over 25 years of Diversity | Kickoff September 5-7 in Lexington Ky

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How do you remember September?


For over 25 years the weekend following Labor Day — the Roots and Heritage Festival has been a pinnacle of regional diversity providing entertainment & education for all ages. We invite you to join us and celebrate our rich heritage at our month-long events.

The colorful pageantry of the festival, combined with its high quality offerings of cultural and educational programs,  has earned its recognition as one of the Top Twenty Events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society and One of the Top Ten Festivals in Kentucky.We invite you to join us!

Support our festival programming with your donation to our community!


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How do I become a Vendor?

The Roots and Heritage Festival showcases the regions most diverse vendors from food, clothing, literature, music and art. Vendors can download our Vendor Application. We also offer an information line at 859.276.3262 for you convenience.

We encourage our vendors to purchase an official Roots & Heritage T-shirt and further support our festival of diversity.


2014 Roots & Heritage Vendor Application (PDF)

Complete 2014 Roots & Heritage Online Vendor Application



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Our two stages of entertainment has featured many internationally renowned artists.


More Music Info



The Annual Roots & Heritage Festival hosts events throughout the month of September and consist of a wide variety of fine art exhibits.


More Fine Art Info



Boxing Exhibitions, a Comedy Show, Plays/Musicals, and Poetry/ Book Readings are just a few of the select entertainment throughout the month long festival celebration.


Live Entertainment Info



Set along historic Elm Tree Lane, the three-day street festival kicks off with an energetic parade that routes Fourth Street to Martin Luther King, to Fifth Street & Race Street and down Third Street.


More Parade Info



As the modern health community grows, the Roots and Heritage Festival looks to provide well rounding health & wellness options for all ages.


More Health Info

Friday Sept 5, 2014
Elm Tree Lane
African American Marketplace

Friday hours: 7pm-11pm | Saturday hours: 11am-11pm | Sunday hours: 10am-5pm

Shop the diverse vendors along the one mile stretch of the historic open market place!

Saturday Sept 6, 2014
Near Short & Elm Tree |11a-4p

It’s ALL about the kids! Join us for a FULL DAY near the corner of Short and Elm Tree Lane. KidsFest is bigger than ever this year with many activities for children to learn play and grow!

Apply to be a vendor online

Elm Tree Lane
African American Marketplace

Friday hours: 7pm-11pm | Saturday hours: 11am-11pm | Sunday hours: 10am-5pm

Shop the diverse vendors along the one mile stretch of the historic open market place!

Stage 2
Upstage: Youth Competition

Ages 17 & younger, this is your chance to shine! Submit your performance info to stage2@rootsfestky.com. Winners recieve a historic performance on Stage 1! Deadline to submit is August 16th.

Click here to apply online!

11:00a | 4th and Elm Tree Lane
Heritage Parade

The parade begins at 11:00 a.m. at the corner of 4th and Elm Tree Lane and ends just prior to the historic Lyric Theatre. Then join us again at 4th and Elm Tree Lane for the Parade Band Showcase!

Sunday Sept 7, 2014
Elm Tree Lane
African American Marketplace

Friday hours: 7pm-11pm | Saturday hours: 11am-11pm | Sunday hours: 10am-5pm

Shop the diverse vendors along the one mile stretch of the historic open market place!

Lyric Theatre | 1-5pm
Gospel Celebration

Last but certainly not least is our GOSPEL CELEBRATION Sunday Sept 7th at 2pm inside the The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center! See event headliner MORRIS MINGO & NEW VISION with gospel performances by:

-Joyful Souls
-GUI & Mime Dance Team
-UK Black Voices
-Danielle Easley & Charlotte Cox-Thompson

Doors open at 1pm! Limited Seating available and is first come first served! Be there and celebrate with Roots & Heritage! #RootsFestKy


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Friday Night Headliner
Nellie “Tiger” Travis

Nellie “Tiger” Travis couldn’t be more destined to sing the blues. She was born deep in the delta of Mississippi in the early 60′s. As in most small towns, the church was a main focal point and Nellie grew up singing gospel music.

Since then, Nellie has come a long way and in November 2009 was crowned the New Queen Of The Blues for Chicago by Bluesman and WVON radio personality, Purvis Spann who previously had bestowed that honor on Ms. KoKo Taylor the original Queen. KoKo was a mentor and friend to Nellie, and when she passed in early 2009, Nellie used her songwriting skills to write and record a tribute song to her friend Ms. KoKo Taylor titled “KoKo” (Queen Of The Blues). This soulful tune was also performed and used to eulogize Koko as part of her last rites and is on one of Nellie’s latest albums, I’m Goin’ Out Tonight.

Today, Nellie has one of the tightest Chicago Blues bands found anywhere in the world comprised of the best musicians from Chicago’s Blues scene.

Nellie Travis has headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival and at numerous festivals/clubs around the world in countries such as Japan, Greece, Italy, Germany, Brazil, as well as her hometown of Mississippi. In November 2013 Nellie’s just finished another very successful twenty-one date concert tour of Europe to packed houses everywhere she performed.

She’s a permanent headlining personality at Chicago’s most successful blues clubs, The Kingston Mines, Buddy Guy’s Legends and Blue Chicago where she continues to pack them in.

She has shared the stage with such legendary greats as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Koko Taylor, Glady’s Knight, Ronnie Baker Brooks just to name a few. Her influences are such powerful performers as Big Mama Thornton, KoKo Taylor (of course) and Etta James.

The nickname “Tiger” was born after Nellie came to Chicago. She and a cousin were hanging out at B.L.U.E.S on Halsted brainstorming about what to call her. Nellie wanted the nickname “Angel”, but her cousin quickly rejected that and came up with “Tiger” which aptly describes her feline-like, intense vocal style as well as her feisty, independent personality.

In addition to being an outstanding singer and songwriter, Nellie is an accomplished actress. She has performed in plays “The Lust Of A Man” and “I was There When The Blues Was Red Hot”.

Nellie has won several awards and many nominations.

Nellie “Tiger” Travis is one the best of Chicago’s Blues and R&B/Soul music exports. She is a worldwide touring headliner.

Saturday Night Headliner

Lakeside is a funk band, best known for their 1980 number one R&B hit, “Fantastic Voyage.”

Lakeside Photo

The group is led by Mark Woods Jr on Lead Vocals.

Their 1980’s album,  Fantastic Voyage, exceeded all expectations. Its eponymous single, “Fantastic Voyage” went to reach number one on the R&B charts. The tune remains the band’s biggest hit, also hitting the pop charts (their only hit to date to do so), where it peaked at number 55. They followed this hit up with a remake of the Beatles‘ song, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” which made the R&B Top Ten again.

Subsequent to the Fantastic Voyage album, Lakeside would go on to release six more successful ones. More hits on the R&B charts kept the group going until their change in the late 1980s.

The popular song “Fantastic Voyage” also appeared in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas playing in radio station Bounce FM

Coolio took a rap version of “Fantastic Voyage” to number three on the pop charts in 1994. “Fantastic Voyage” was also performed by Cedric the Entertainer,Vanessa L. WilliamsBow Wow, and Solange Knowles in the movie Johnson Family Vacation.

Harold Melvin’s Bluenotes

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were an American singing group, one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. The group’s repertoire included soulR&Bdoo-wop, and disco.

Founded in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania in the early 1950s as The Charlemagnes, the group is most noted for several hits on Gamble and Huff‘s Philadelphia International label between 1972 and 1976, although they performed and recorded until Melvin’s death in 1997. However, the remaining members, the Blue Notes, were apart of the 2013 Soul Train Cruise, and again during the fourth sailing.

Despite group founder and original lead singer Harold Melvin’s top billing, the Blue Notes’ most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, their lead singer during the successful years at Philadelphia International.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes are arguably the most-covered Philly soul group in history: many of their hits have been re-recorded by other artists, including Simply RedDavid RuffinJimmy SomervilleSybil, and John Legend, while dance music DJ Danny Rampling cites “Wake Up Everybody” as his favorite song of all time. Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, features lead singer Donnell “Big Daddy” Gillespie, Anthony Brooks, Rufus Thorne, John Morris and Sharon Paige.

The band is mentioned on Snoop Dogg‘s 1993 album Doggystyle.

Rapper Big Boi uses a sample of “I Miss You” on his song “Shine Blockas” feat. Gucci Mane. “I Miss You” was also sampled by Kanye West on Jay-Z‘s song “This Can’t Be Life”, featuring Beanie Sigel and Scarface.


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Be a part of our community. Be a Sponsor!

Our month long events represents an exceptional opportunity to put your company’s brand in front of a wide audience that could have direct interest in your products. By becoming one of our sponsors, you have the chance to reach a unique targeted audience and demonstrate your businesses diverse activism within the local community.


For sponsorship information email: sponsors@rootsfestky.com

Contact Us

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How to Reach Us


Festival Map

General Inquiries: info@rootsfestky.com


Parade inquiries: parade@rootsfestky.com

Vendor inquiries: vendors@rootsfestky.com


For Music & Entertainment inquiries

Main Stage: Stage1@rootsfestky.com

Youth Stage: Stage2@rootsfestky.com

Gospel Stage: gospel@rootsfestky.com


For Fine Art inquiries: arts@rootsfestky.com

For t-shirts inquiries: tshirts@rootsfestky.com

Stay in touch

Please contact us for general information on our events! We hope the Roots & Heritage Festival is a great way to remember September!