Homegrown Festival Stops
Highway Construction: Eatonville, Florida’s
Zora Neale Hurston Festival
Eatonville, Florida is a small
town known as “the oldest
incorporated municipality in the United States founded by people
of African descent.” In 1987, the community learned
of plans to turn its main road, the two-lane Kennedy Boulevard,
into a five-lane thoroughfare which would destroy the historic
character of the community. Residents rallied to stop the
and found the solution in the legacy of their most famous
resident, noted author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston.
But how could
they capitalize on this legacy?
What Happened Next
Concerned citizens formed The Association to
Preserve the Eatonville Community and started work. Among their
- Decided to produce a festival to honor Hurston, her works,
ideals and ethics
- Agreed to include a strong humanities component
well known speakers and authors to the event
- Recruited sponsors
to help with everything from marketing to operations
- Kennedy Boulevard was not widened and the community
retains it small-town ambiance.
- The annual Hurston Festival
draws visitors from around the country. Many return each
year for the festival.
- More than 800 volunteers assist with
planning the event.
- Estimates show that the January festival
brings $3 million into the county.
National Trust for Historic Preservation ®
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