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Arts & Life

Troost Festival Brings Together Eclectic Mix Of Artists, Activists And Community Members

Cody Newill
The 11th annual Troost Festival brought together a wide swath of interests and people Saturday.

The 11th annual Troost Festival brought together hundreds of community members, artists and businesses Saturday for a one-day celebration of the culture of Troost Avenue.

Dozens of booths and pavilions lined the street from Linwood to 31st Street, with groups like the Harry Potter Alliance sitting next to Black Lives Matter activists.  

Though Troost remains one of the biggest dividing lines in Kansas City, there's an air of positivity and inclusion to the proceedings. It's the type of place where young slam poets take the stage after bluegrass bands belt out songs titled "Troost Rising."

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
Poets from the American Friends Service Committee took the stage after a bluegrass band called Potlicker's Possum Run performed.

Karis Harrington helps run the festival's "soap box," an open mic that anyone can use to voice concerns about social issues. She says that giving people along Troost a place to talk with neighbors and others from across the city is a major aspect of the festival.

"Of paramount importance is just the feeling that we're being heard," Harrington said. "The platform, as small as it is, is still a voice for some people."

For Keilon Willis and his friends Alex Dace and Kyle Plus, that's exactly what the festival provides. They got on stage to showcase their rap songs, which Willis hopes reached people who wouldn't normally hear them.

"I think what [Troost Festival] does is give the opportunity for people to come out, feel safe and get involved," Willis said. "People get to come interact with others that they probably wouldn't normally interact with and experience new cultures."

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