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Arts/Culture

University United Festival returns with extra security measures in place

Buffalo Council Member Rasheed Wyatt wants huge crowds to attend the University United Festival June 11-12, but his expectations are tempered as a community grieves the 10 people killed on May 14 at the Jefferson Avenue Tops supermarket.

"I probably won't be able to convince everyone (to attend) because there are still people who are suffering through the trauma," Wyatt said at a Thursday press conference at Rotary Field, the festival's home on the University at Buffalo's South Campus.

A moment of silence will honor those lost, said Wyatt, who outlined a number of measures that will be in effect to ease safety concerns. Extra fencing will be installed to ensure a steady entrance into the festival so metal detectors can be utilized. No coolers will be allowed.

"We also have private security. We'll have the 'sky cam' the Buffalo Police Department has. It will be here," he said.

A lengthy lineup of musical acts will perform. On Saturday, the list includes Bobby V, The Whispers and Cami Clune, the Buffalo native who rocketed to stardom following her performance on NBC's "The Voice." Sunday will be dedicated to Gospel music.

Festival Chairwoman Taisha St. Jean has been in communication with the performers' managers and said all acts are coming.

"When it first happened, they reached out to me immediately to give us prayers and see what they can do actually to make the situation better in Buffalo. What can they donate?" she said.

The festival had been growing until the pandemic forced it to be postponed. According to St. Jean, 15,000 people attended the last festival and she's hoping for more this year. She believes they will be rewarded by an inspired group of musical performers.

"I can tell you these artists are excited to come. They want to uplift Buffalo and they want to encourage Buffalo that better days are to come," she said.