'Rock The Block' festival gets underway Saturday

Rock the Block

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - It's an all-day event filled with multi-cultural music, food and a lot of family fun.

The annual "Rock The Block" festival gets under way in Grand Rapids Saturday, June 10. Organizers describe the street festival as a way to celebrate diversity and community.

"We like to incorporate all different types of cultures to our festival," said Javier Cervantes, Neighborhood Services Liaison for LINC Up. "We like to have a variety of foods, like Mexican food and African American soul food. We have a little bit of everything, including our entertainment. We have a variety of entertainment lined up.

"We are very excited."

Rock The Block runs from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Madison Square neighborhood. Madison, between Hall and Oakdale streets, will be blocked off for the event.

"We have over 100 resource vendors that will be here, both non-profit and for-profit. That includes small merchandise vendors and food vendors, as well," said Cervantes.

National Hip Hop artists Monie Love and Special Ed will be the featured headline acts. Local performers are also scheduled to perform throughout the day. In addition to live music and food vendors, the festival will feature adult carnival games and activities in the KidsZone. That includes bounce houses, balloon animals, face painting, caricature drawing and The Grand Rapids Children's Museum's Imagination Station.

This is the seventh year of the festival.

The event has attracted thousands of people since it began in 2011. New this year is will be "a kids' ferris wheel at the south end of the festival grounds (Madison and Adams streets) and a mini-pitch competition for a business idea being sponsored by Start Garden, which will encourage anyone in attendance to pitch their business idea in 99 seconds for a chance to win $599 cash to help launch it.

"This event will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the Start Garden tent on the festival grounds," according to the event press release.

Volunteers with the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan will also have a presence at the event. The organization will address an issue of great concern to members of the Madison Square community.

Spokesperson, Molly Klimas says that concern is lead found in the paint of homes built before 1978.

"There are a lot of homes in the city of Grand Rapids that were built before that year," she said. "About 80% of the housing stock. This is an area with a lot of those older homes. We are going to have volunteers out wearing red tee-shirts and passing out lead check test kits for free. People can go and check their homes, like the window seals and paint on the siding, and see if they have lead based paint."

Lead exposure can cause a variety of health risks, especially for children. Klimas says the most common types of work done to remove lead hazards from homes are repairing or replacing windows and re-painting or replacing siding. There are resources available to help eligible home owners and landlords pay for lead remediation.

More information can be found on the Get The Lead Out website or by contacting Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan at 616-241-3300. Another resource is the City of Grand Rapids Community Development Department.

Those interested can contact the department at 616-456-3030.

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