PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Day 2 of the inaugural 420ish Unity Festival wrapped up in Portsmouth Sunday night.
After a successful day of hip hop music Saturday, day two of the 420ish Unity Festival got off to a hot start with over a dozen reggae artists. That includes Shaggy and Spice, as well as Sleepy U and Native Dread.
More than 3,000 people were at the festival on day one, according to organizers. The night ended with headliners City Girls and Rick Ross.
Festival co-host and Portsmouth native Coby Harper says the event showed that there’s positivity in Portsmouth.
“It’s for unity, unity for everyone, for all cities, all states to come out and to put Portsmouth on the map and have everyone in Virginia come out. That’s what unity is-have a good time, show love. Who doesn’t love music?” he said. Harper says that the event also provided many a place to go and have fun.
“We’re happy Portsmouth has something, but the whole 757 has something to go to,” he said.
While the festival turned out the way he expected, Harper says he too encountered many who didn’t believe it would happen, but believes now that people have seen the success, there will be more for years to come.
“Personally, I speak for myself, it was frustrating dealing with the skepticism and negativity online,’ he said. ” When you’re trying to provide something good for the people, you want to have support. Hopefully, after the success, we had last night and today, going forward year to year, we’ll be able to see that positivity.”
Organizers previously told 10 On Your Side that they have high hopes for the event.
“One of the number one things, you know, that we’re always going to struggle with us the stereotype,” said Germain Green, the festival organizer. “I mean the identity that comes with the city of Portsmouth.”
The festival had been in the works since last year, with the goal of “bringing people of all ages and ethnicities together.”
Tickets went on sale in January before necessary permits from the City of Portsmouth were approved and even though the festival is billed as a “music, food and canna festival,” the city has made clear marijuana — often termed 420 in slang — is not to be smoked on the festival grounds. There also won’t be alcohol.
State Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), who championed the legislation that made recreational marijuana legal in the state and now owns her own cannabis shop, reassured this week the festival is set up for success.
She said 54 Portsmouth police officers and sheriff’s deputies were hired to help with security when it comes to security.
“It’s going to be an economic boost for the city … it’s going to bring people together,” Lucas said. “I’m hoping that it will be peaceful, if we pull that all off I think we are on our way to having a festival for Portsmouth that people can appreciate.”
Portsmouth Undersheriff Col. M.A. Waters told 10 On Your Side he was at the event all weekend and that there were no reported incidents.
Lucas says the festival will be back next year amid the success that some didn’t believe would happen.
“We’ve had a lot naysayers who said this wouldn’t happen especially when it started with the casino and the legalization of marijuana and especially with this festival. We’re starting to make believers out of them,” she said.