2024-07-22 12:16 PM

F.C.’s Tinner Hill Music Festival Celebrates 30th Year

Taking place at its usual venue, the green, open expanse of Cherry Hill Park, the 2024 Tinner Hill Music Festival brought together a powerhouse lineup of musical acts to The Little City last Saturday. A foot-tapping blend of blues, reggae, jazz, gospel, and funk, this year’s artists drew a massive crowd — a sizable portion of whom spent a good deal of time dancing near the stage.

After kicking off with Miss Niki’s Music Class, Batalá Washington performed drumming routines with spectacular timing and choreography. See-I, a Reggae-infused group, followed, along with the JoGo Project, a band dedicated to preserving the go-go genre of music, which originated in Washington, D.C.
The Blackbyrds next brought their endless energy to the show, and as the day started to draw to a close, arguably the biggest acts of the festival appeared: the six-time Grammy Award-winning Gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama, followed by George Porter, Jr. and Runnin’ Pardners.

The founder of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, Dr. Edwin B. Henderson, II, gave remarks near the start of the festival, explaining the event’s background, the work of the Foundation, and the importance of recognizing the history, longevity, and contributions of African American culture both in Falls Church and beyond.

This year welcomed a new producer for this year’s festival, La’Verne E. Washington, who has a long career in the entertainment business, having been an arts and events management specialist for 30 years. She added that “the idea of producing a music festival was very intriguing to me.” One unique challenge for Washington was the nature of the venue, “because you can work hard on something like this, but when the day comes, it’s actually Mother Nature’s party. Well, she was clearly pleased and gave us an absolutely beautiful day.”

While not the producer on record, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the large role Tori Mckinney and team played in the production of this year’s event. Tori has been involved with producing the event for 6 years. Tori stated, “Oh what a day! Tinner Hill Music Festival was a resounding success again this year. Since the summer of 2018 when I began to prepare for the 2019 Festival, my Key Krewe group of friends, my Rock Star Realty Group team, dozens of volunteers, and I have produced 5 phenomenal Festivals that have superseded any of our dreams. My sixth year in production did not disappoint.”

Speaking about the festival vendors, Washington explained that “we sent out solicitations to those from last year to ask if they wanted to be a part of 2024. There were the regular vendors and one or two new ones. Many were very excited about it and returned.” The hardest step in the process was “the Fairfax temporary food license. I had to start the process with a long online form. Then once I was done, they each had to sign up under our application.”

Reflecting on the importance of the festival, Washington said that the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation “does an amazing job educating the community and the region about the rich history of Tinner Hill and its Black history.”

Tori added, “The Tinner Hill Music Festival, now the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation’s most prominent annual event, contributes to the heightened awareness for the Foundation to levels never seen before. We have grown the reach of the Festival beyond Falls Church City and the local region. Attendees now come from Boston and New York, North Carolina and Florida, California and even Guam! We are on the summer’s festival map!”

Not knowing this specific history before taking the contract, Washington notes that she has since learned about Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson, who was “recognized for organizing the first rural branch of the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)” and Joseph Tinner, a stonemason at whose home the early meetings took place.

“Today,” Washington adds, “there are legendary citizens like Dr. Edwin Henderson, II, and his wife Nikki Henderson who keep that amazing history alive.”

Tori stated, “While this is my last year of participating in the production of the Tinner Hill Music Festival, it is a legacy that my team leaves behind and are proud of. We have every hope for its continued success, and look forward to my continued legacy in the Rock Star Beer Garden. Cheers!”

Washington also emphasized that this year’s festival was the result of a strong group effort, and would like to thank all “all the volunteers, Key Krewe, sponsors, Festival Committee, vendors, artists, and Media and Board Directors” for working together “to make the 30th anniversary such a great success.” She also thanked Mayor Hardi, the City Council, City Staff, Falls Church, Recreation and Parks, and the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation.

To learn more about the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and its work, visit tinnerhill.org.

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