IDLEWILD — Live jazz and blues tunes blared through the woods of Idlewild as more than 1,000 people came together to enjoy a full day of music, food and fun during the sixth annual Idlewild Homecoming Jazz and Blues Festival on Saturday at John Meeks Park.

As one of the largest events in Lake County, the free festival, sponsored by the Idlewild African-American Chamber of Commerce, celebrates Idlewild’s past and musical heritage.

Eight buses brought visitors to the festival from Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Pontiac.

This year’s festival paid tribute to its founder, John Meeks, who passed away this past April. His family worked with the Idlewild African-American Chamber of Commerce to make this year’s event happened.

“This year’s event was wonderful,” said Janet Meeks, daughter to John Meeks. “This event is about having free entertainment on the island. We enjoy having so many visitors come out. The sponsors and all the volunteers in the community made everything come together. We really love their support. Our budget is based strictly on donations.”

The Dexter Sims Trio, Sandra Bevins, Priscilla Price, the Family Reunion Band and Paul “Moz” Mosby, from WDIV-FM Radio hit the stage.

“God has blessed us with abundance to be here,” said Dr. Carolyn King, one of the sponsors. “Most of us are here because Idlewild is our second home. God has shined upon us and provided beautiful weather.”

In addition to live music, visitors enjoyed browsing the many items sold at vendors. The food, such as fried catfish, barbecue and roasted corn on the cob also is a highlight of the day. Kids were entertained with a bouncy house.

“It is a beautiful thing to see so many people come out,” said Charles Martin III, grandson to John Meeks.