Carlando Brown wants to build a unique, diverse event in Rock Hill.
Eight years after he started a Unity Festival at Confederate Park, Rock Hill resident Brown said he had been looking for a venue for his unique mix of live entertainment, children's games, car show, basketball tournament and health awareness.
The idea for the event is to mix unity and diversity with small business networking, said Brown, of Brown & Brown Marketing.
"We want to bring together diversity in every scenario," Brown said. "With the economy adding stress, I wanted to provide a day where everything's free - except for food vendors - for families to enjoy. A day for people to relax."
That's the vision he realized at this year's Unity Festival, presented by Assure Insurance on Sunday afternoon. Flocks of people came to Winthrop Lake to enjoy the event.
"It's an awesome event for families to come together and celebrate each other and the love of God," said Loretta McClinton of Rock Hill. "It's wonderful fellowship. It's uplifting. It's relaxing. We need more events like this in Rock Hill."
The event moved from Confederate Park to the York County Fairgrounds in 2003 and has been in a holding pattern since, Brown said. This year's festival included booths with screenings and information on health-related issues, something Brown said he holds dear after losing his mother to breast cancer.
Pastor Bernard Gill of Taking the City Ministry in Rock Hill said he was excited to help unify the community.
"This is something we do in church all the time," Gill said about the ministry's performance at the festival. "It's great to bring it to the community, to a crowd diverse in age, race and religion."
Many people gathered on lawn chairs in the shade around Winthrop Lake to watch the diverse entertainment, which ranged from gospel music to comedy to Latin jazz.
Tommy Lopez, a flutist from Puerto Rico who now lives in Charlotte, said it's fun to bring his Latin jazz and inspirational music to a diverse audience.
"I thought it would be a good idea to bring the sound to a diversity festival," he said.
Brown said he hopes to continue to grow the festival into a true melting pot of the community.
"We have a really diverse event with a lot of potential," he said. "My true purpose is unity and diversity. That's what I stand for. I want to make sure I have a part in that in the community."