PF Hampton Roads Presents the 26th Annual Umoja Festival

Planet Fitness® presented the 26th Annual Umoja Festival at the Portsmouth Pavilion and Festival Park Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29, in Portsmouth, Virginia. Approximately 18,000 people attended the weekend-long event, which aims to educate and encapsulate the city of Portsmouth with three days of African culture, cuisine, music and education.

This is the first year PF Hampton Roads sponsored this event, and is also the first event in which PF® is the Presenting Sponsor. The event’s coordinating company, Studio Center, reached out to PF Hampton Roads owners asking if they would be interested in being the Presenting Sponsor of the festival. The company had opened their ninth club in the same area during the same month of the festival and decided that being a major sponsor for the event would be an ideal way to reach out to the public. PF had a vendor booth in the very front of the entrance to the festival and they ordered small towels, water bottles and koozies as giveaways for the event. A “#PLANETFITNESS” chloroplast sign was also made for attendees to take photos in front of for social media purposes.

As Presenting Sponsor of the Umoja Festival, Planet Fitness received radio advertising on three major stations, mentions in all local cable television and logo inclusions in several community and city ads, as well as the festival website. Planet Fitness also received VIP passes and Gold Circle tickets for the concerts held during the festival.

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PF Staff L-R: Kevon Keels, Kimberly Edwards, Tanisha Bennett, Taylor Mebane, AJ Wiggins, Thellon Corbett, Latisha Bryant, Jewell Windley, Stephanie Lucario, Mike Madry, Brittaney Paige, Ray Baker, Jordan Lee and Precious Sawyer.

The annual event aims to bring the African experience and culture to the City of Portsmouth. Umoja, a Kiswahili word, means “unity” and is the first principle of the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa. As dictated by African tradition, the event began with a drum call, a ceremonial procession and was blessed by elder members of the Portsmouth community.

To further the authenticity and enrichment of the festival, the event grounds were decorated to resemble Portsmouth’s sister city of Eldoret, Kenya. An array of traditional African art, jewelry and other handcrafted items were available for all to gaze upon while food vendors offered a wide selection of tantalizing flavors for purchase. The free festival included live music, a tour of The Emanuel A.M.E. Church, a pivotal stop on the Underground Railroad, a Heritage Tour and activities for children, including face painting, bounce houses, games, Home Depot workshops, arts and crafts and the GamerBus. Live music, featuring over 10 musical acts, was held throughout the weekend’s festivities as well.

“We wanted to give back to the people that support our business. The event was free for anyone to attend and was right in line with our focus this year, which is to be involved in more local activities in an effort to knit ourselves into the community,” said PF Hampton Roads Franchisee Sharree Ryder.