Hundreds of people gathered around downtown Houma Friday evening to enjoy the first Juice Fest, which was hosted by Justin "DeeJay Juice" Patterson.
The festival was created as a way to give back to the community and bring it together. This was visible on Friday, as the streets were packed with people walking up and down, and the plaza was filled with people who were there dancing and enjoying the performances.
"I have been looking for a way to give back to my city for a long time," Patterson said. "This fest is about unity, about music, about getting together just because we want to and not because something bad just happened."
Houma Police Chief Dana Coleman was present at the event and performed with the local choir United With Praiz.
"I play music in church and I am always singing in church, so this is what I do," Coleman said. "At the end of the day, I take my uniform off and I am in church playing music and singing."
Coleman added that he expected to see people from all races at the event to show the unity of the parish.
"This is like a big family reunion, because everybody here knows each other. We all went to school together, our kids go to school together, so I think this being a first is a tremendous thing and has the potential to be huge," he said.
Besides the music, there were several vendors at the event. One of this vendors was Travin Johnson, from Swamp Water Boyz, who was set to cook 56 pounds of pastalaya by the end of the night.
"I have been to a couple of Juice's events and I know he is a very popular person in the community, so I wanted to be a part of this festival today," Johnson said. "I think instead of having to go to New Orleans, we will have a good festival at home from now on."
Jere Williams, Patterson's friend and co-coordinator of the festival, said the event was set in the downtown area of Houma because it is a central location between the west and the east sides of the city, a neutral location, as she called it.
"We are here to create a time together. This is about family time, about being one Terrebonne Parish," Williams said. "Music and food do one thing, and that is bring people together and we have both here."
Several groups took the stage throughout the night. Among the performers were DJ Will, The Deejay and Friends, Traci Brown, Alyse Michaels, among others. There was also a Zumba class, a martial arts group and a JuggAerobics session, which according to Williams is very popular at the moment.
"The event does not celebrate my birthday, or any kind of milestone. It is just something I always wanted to do and now I have," Patterson said. "I would like to see my idea grow over the years."
Staff Writer Andrea Mujica can be reached at 850-1148 or email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @CationM.