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Buffalo's East Side sees the return of the University United Festival

After a 2-year hiatus, the community and a top-tier lineup of talent gathered on UB's South Campus in support of the University District and the East Side.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After a two-year hiatus, the University United Festival is back.

This fast-growing free family-friendly community festival made its way back to Buffalo's East Side on Saturday and Sunday, and not even a bit of rain was a match for the crowd.

People of all ages gathered on the University at Buffalo's South Campus Rotary Field for a weekend of live entertainment performed by award winning local and national talent, including: Cami Clune, Bobby V, JOE, MYA, The Whispers, Darcel Blue, and Le'Andria Johnson, among others. 

Due to recent traumatic events, including COVID-19 and the recent mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue, the festival committee and University District Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt say organized fellowship is what people need to help heal.

"The people really need this," Wyatt said. "They want to to try to come out of what we've been through for the past 2.5 years of the pandemic, and then the tragedy on Jefferson. This is the type of relief that we need."

This year's festival coincides with Gun Violence Awareness Faith Weekend, a time when faith leaders across from across New York State come together to pray for families and individuals whose lives have been destroyed by gun violence.

It's also an opportunity to use sermons to spread messages of peace, hope, and unity with their congregations in hopes of putting an end to community-wide gun violence. 

Buffalo Common Council president Bishop Darius Pridgen told 2 On Your Side, "it's about now learning to work together. In the past, it was the city, the county, the state, feds, all in their silos. And now it's about all of us saying we have to get rid of silos because we must come together."

The festival closed out with "Gospel Day" on Sunday. Pridgen said it was a perfect opportunity to share anti-violence messages the community.

"Although the University District sponsored this festival, what it brought together was people from every district, even people from out of town came here to be with Buffalo and to help Buffalo as we continue to heal," Pridgen said.

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