The music was loud and the aroma from barbecue grills was strong Saturday as a smaller-than-expected crowd gathered at Cooper Creek Park for the 27th Annual Family Day in the Park."
"We had a nice, orderly crowd," said Columbus Police Maj. Julius Graham, who was working with the security detail at the park off Milgen Road. "They came in spurts."
Three hours after the music and fun for children kicked off at noon, Graham estimated the crowd at 5,000. The event once averaged over 10,000 people, but has averaged around 6,000 the last few years. Sponsored by Davis Broadcasting Inc. of Columbus, the event has been held since 1986 to celebrate family and black music month a day before Father's Day.
Chasadee Pritchett and Tatalina Allen, both students at East Columbus Magnet Academy, were rocking to the music while relaxing in a swing.
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"I've been coming since I was 7," said Tatlina, 12.
Chasadee said it's her second trip to Family Day, and she comes for the music. "They be crunk," she said. "I like it."
Tatlina said she was there to hear Lil Nuke, a rapper from Atlanta.
The event featured top artists Isaac Caree and Sheri Jones-Moffet singing gospel along with Young Dro, Verse Simmonds and Slice 9 performing hip-hop. Other artists were there performing R&B and jazz.
Geniece Granville, business manager for Davis Broadcasting, was keeping children active on the bouncing toys and slides.
"It's been a ton of kids over here," Granville said. "I wished the crowd was a little bit bigger, but the day is beautiful. People here seem to be having a great time. You couldn't ask for anything more than a few more people."
Monique Jackson of Columbus said she brought six children and three adults to the park. "Really, I came out for my kids," she said. "We wanted to come out. It's a good event for the kids and it's free."
For most of the day, the aroma of barbecue was strong with cooks battling for the trophy for the best barbecue ribs. The top prize of $250 went to Drew Towsend of Hamilton.
"Man I couldn't be more happier," said Towsend, holding the trophy. "This is the first competition we've ever entered, and it seems like we got some good stuff."
Towsend said he has been cooking for the last two years, but his crew just started smoking ribs.
Kelvin Perry of Smiths Station, Ala., didn't take the top prize but won a barbecue grill for placing second in the barbecue cook-off.
""I like the grill, but I've got so many," said Perry, who operates the Cook Out Restaurant in Smiths Station. "That's alright. I'm happy."
The biggest winner at the event may have been Kimberly Hughes, who won the $5,000 shopping spree.
Michael Soul, program director for Davis Broadcasting, was pleased with the turnout.
"It's going well, and it's a great turn out, too," Soul said.