PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Local organizers tell News 3 that they are indeed holding a festival in Portsmouth next month at the Sportsplex.
It’s being called the “420ish Unity Festival.” It's scheduled for April 23 through April 24 and is for ages 18 and up.
The advertised line-up includes hip hop and reggae artists like Rick Ross, Shaggy, Gucci Mane, Remy Ma and Spice.
News 3 asked how many tickets were sold, but the organizers didn't want to disclose those details. They did tell us sales have been picking up in the last couple of weeks, and the confirm the festival is indeed happening.
Germain Green, the festival's founder, said they got the final approval Wednesday from the city, but he added that they’ve had some of the artists booked since December.
The city did issue a permit for the festival, and organizers are working to get a copy of that.
Portsmouth School Board member Lakeesha Atkinson is one of the local organizers. She also told News 3 that the festival is happening, and they wanted a “wow” factor with the artists they booked.
"To have a mainstream artist like Shaggy here - a mega superstar here - that's major," Atkinson said.
Atkinson said they submitted a safety plan to the city, and they will have law enforcement from both Portsmouth Police Department as well as the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office in addition to private security.
"Each attendee that comes will be wanted by our staffing company," Atkinson said. "That was a major part of the plan, and throughout the planning of the festival, that was our main goal: Safety first."
He says he understands why people would be skeptical about pulling off such a big festival in the city, but he hopes it's a catalyst for change.
"Far too many times, this city is known for negativity. And one of my goals with this festival is to rebrand this city with a positive image, and it could be something great," Green says.
Green said the plan is to have the festival in a field behind the Sportsplex building located at 801 Portsmouth Boulevard. Vendors selling food and alcohol will be set up in the Sportsplex parking lot, according to Green, but smoking marijuana will not be permitted on the festival grounds. He added that they have nearly 3,000 parking spots available through a nearby church and other businesses.
According to the festival website, tickets are $199 for a 1-day pass, $299 for a 2-day pass, or $449 for a VIP 2-day pass.