New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell welcomes Essence Fest executives

Mayor Cantrell Welcomes Essence 25

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -A kickoff press conference was held Thursday (July 4) for the 25th Essence Festival and the new owner of Essence said the name of the event will change slightly going forward.

"The levels of intentionality that we are now bringing to our community, we're now going to transform as well the name of the festival, so don't get too nervous, we're not going to get crazy, I know y'all are thinking, ‘Richelieu is going to do something nuts,’ but we are now going to be very intentional in calling the Essence Festival the Essence Festival of Culture,” said Richelieu Dennis, of Essence Ventures.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell embraced the company’s statement that the festival has meant billions to the state’s economy over the years.

“Four billion, it's real , you can't make it up, and we're going to ensure that Essence continues to thrive in the city of New Orleans for generations to come, absolutely, and what that means is a little bit more skin the game from us and the state of Louisiana so we can nurture this relationship,” said Cantrell.

Ed Lewis, one of the founders of Essence Magazine nearly 50 years ago was honored during the press conference at the Ashe’ Cultural Center. He was also part of the launch of the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

Earlier in the day, the airport was filled with people arriving in the city for the multi-day event.

Each year big name entertainers take the stage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the nighttime concerts. Organizers said they are thrilled to have former First Lady Michelle Obama be part of the lineup this year. She is to speak Saturday evening at the Superdome.

During the day empowerment seminars featuring Hollywood stars and inspirational speakers are held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

There are also job recruiting activities, as well as beauty, health and wellness events, along with a huge marketplace offering unique wares in the convention center.

A number of events are being held in other parts of the community through Sunday.

The festival attracts people from around the world.

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