After a turbulent year in its management, Multifest will return to the state Capitol grounds next weekend, refreshed and re-energized.
This year will mark the 24th year in a row the multicultural festival has been held in Charleston. Led by new executive director Vicky Keene, a 15-member committee has assembled a slate of 22 different musicians to perform over the three days of the festival, from Aug. 2-4.
"We have a lot of local talent," said Multifest Vice President JoLoyd, a musician who merged his real name, Joe Loyd, into one at the urging of a band mate years ago.
Whether Multifest would happen was uncertain earlier this year. Festival treasurer Deborah Starks pleaded guilty in January to embezzling more than $300,000 of Multifest funds between 2005 and 2010. Her husband, Stephen Starks, was the founder of the festival and its board president.
In April, Deborah Starks was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. Stephen Starks resigned as president in January.
Because of the embezzlement, Charleston and Kanawha County officials had threatened to pull their share of funding for the event. Officials later redacted such action after a new board of directors put financial safeguards in place, including hiring an accounting firm to handle all financial transactions. The board also placed a $25,000 bond on each board member through Multifest's insurance policy.
"It wasn't that hard," JoLoyd said of the reorganization. "We had to work it out and we did."
In March, both the city of Charleston and the Kanawha County Commission committed $15,000 each to Multifest.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said that he is comfortable donating money to Multifest, citing the restructuring and the addition of former Charleston City Police Chief and Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner Dallas Staples.
"I look forward to it being successful," Carper said.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he hopes the festival does well and noted that the event is good for the city.