Roots and Heritage Festival 2022

Donna Ison


Culture, Creativity, Connection, and Community: 

Lexington’s Roots and Heritage Festival provides top-notch entertainment while promoting diversity and equity.

After a two-year hiatus, the Roots and Heritage Festival is back—and the community is thrilled. According to Chairperson Kimberly Henderson Baird, “I cannot begin to talk about the comments and excitement that has been generated when we announced we were returning in person! After having the festival in person each year since 1989, it was devastating to have to cancel in 2020 and 2021 for the pandemic. The community was upset but understood. We are very glad that we can reunite in person this year.”

The festival has been an integral part of bringing regional diversity through entertainment and education for over 30 years. In the late eighties, a group of community volunteers came together with a common goal: to highlight the history of the East End area and celebrate African American culture and achievement. What began as a grassroots one-day festival has grow to three-day, kick-off weekend and a month-long celebration that has been named a “Top Ten” festival in the region by the Kentucky Tourism Council and “One Of The Top Twenty Events” in the Southeast tourism region.

Roots and Heritage promotes inclusion, pride, and unity while offering top-notch music, shopping, food, and family-focused activities. “Lexington is very diverse; highlighting the culture, achievement, and diversity of those in the community helps us to better understand and appreciate each other—and in that education, hopefully, to strengthen us as a city,” Baird said. She has been heading up the action for the last 17 years. In addition to her role as chairperson, Baird has served as an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney since 1996 and became the First Assistant in 2016. She is also an advisor and instructor to the Lexington Police Department and a guest instructor at Eastern Kentucky University, Department of Criminal Justice Training.

Each year, Baird most looks forward to witnessing the convergence of community. She said, “Standing on stage at the end of each evening and seeing the sea of hundreds of people in the crowd and the vendors lined up for three blocks. That’s the sign of a truly successful festival.”

She also feels the family atmosphere of the festival makes it truly unique and special: “People plan their family reunions around the festival and old friends are able to see each other and catch up. It is such a warm and loving atmosphere that energizes me to keep being a part of the festival each year.”

In closing, Baird said, “A first time attendee will greatly enjoy every aspect of the festival. The festival is a wonderful experience for anyone to attend. Attendees can check our website leading up to the festival to see the updates on performers and activities that will be happening during the month.”

Don’t miss out on this important Lexington tradition. We look forward to seeing you there!

Save the Date:

The main weekend-long event will take place September 9-11, 2022 and offers something for everyone. For those who have never attended, Baird provided a run-down of all the amazing events:

  • Friday evening, the stage opens with jazz and blues.
  • On Saturday, various R & B artists will offer their individual stylings.
  • Saturday afternoon, the parade, featuring local community groups and marching bands, will wind through the historic East End neighborhood.
  • Saturday night, prepare for dancing in the streets when the national headliner Party Train—The Gap Band Tribute performs.
  • Sunday’s highlight is a spirit-filled gospel celebration.
  • Throughout the weekend, you can visit the magnificent marketplace of vendors who offer a large variety of cultural wares to purchase, including art, jewelry, books, music, clothing, and food.
  • To ensure there is something for young and old alike, the festival also provides a KidsFest area with activities for children.