Dallas' Annual KwanzaaFest Canceled

County commissioner who sponsors festival says federal corruption probe not to blame

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 5 News

    KwanzaaFest has been canceled, according to the Dallas County commissioner who has sponsored the annual event since 1991.

    The December event at Dallas Fair Park is an black cultural celebration and health fair that provides medical screenings and social services.

    Dallas Kwanzaafest Canceled

    [DFW] Dallas  Kwanzaafest Canceled
    Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has canceled this year's Kwanzaafest after sponsoring it for more than 20 years. Price insists losing sponsors is the reason the event won't be held.

    "We've grown this from about 1,000 to 50,000," County Commissioner John Wiley Price said. "There's not another event in the Southwest that's anywhere close to it."

    But staging an event of its size also became very costly, with security, emergency medical, utility, insurance and rent expenses. This year's event was running about $30,000 short of what was needed, and a last-minute donation offer that came in Monday arrived too late, Price said.

    "I'm not going to push my volunteers in six weeks for something that normally takes us six months to put together, a production," he said. "It's not about just the money; it's about the volunteers. It's about the logistics, and I'm just not going to do it, try to do it in six weeks."

    In the past two years, the event was held under the cloud of an FBI corruption investigation targeting Price. The probe became public in June 2011 with raids on his home and office.

    KwanzaaFest is also a target of the investigation. Investigators are looking into the possible money laundering of bribes through the charity event's finances, according to court records.

    Price has denied any wrongdoing.

    He said Tuesday that the investigation is not the reason for Kwanzafest's cancellation.

    "The cloud has been over for the past several years," Price said. "I think we've done it for the last several years, so clearly it's not the cloud."

    The government fought with Price in 2012 to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash seized from his home in the 2011 raids, but nothing public has come of the investigation recently.

    Price could not say Tuesday whether the probe is still underway.

    "I don't know," he said. "You've got to ask the people investigating. I don't know."

    Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the county would find other ways to provide the health services that are offered at KwanzaaFest.

    "I'm disappointed that we're not going to have it this year, but we're committed to finding ways to get those services out to the community," he said.

    Price said KwanzaaFest could return next year.