Back in the Day fest revives Southside community spirit (photos)

Attendees enjoying music by the Sounds of Blackness/Photo by Travis Lee. See more photos below.

What started out as a BBQ reunion of sorts in Phillip Crawford’s backyard has over the years blossomed into a beloved annual South Minneapolis community event, now in its 11th year.

On Saturday, Sept. 4, Southsiders gathered once again at Phelps Park in Minneapolis to enjoy food, health clinics, free haircuts, kids’ activities, shopping with local vendors, and live entertainment from crooner Johnnie Brown and the Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness.

Phillip Crawford explained why he and others work hard to organize the event every year. “It’s important to show the youth that we can get together as people without any trouble,” he said. “It’s important to show love for your neighbor, love for one another.

“It started in the backyard with me, my sister, some friends, and then it outgrew the backyard and we moved it to Phelps Park and it kinda took on a life of its own and has been growing ever since,” he shared. In addition to Phillip and Lisa Crawford, Tony Price, Tiffany Price, Delores Price, Paul McDavid, and Bobby Tims, also helped to launch the event, to name a few.

Lisa Crawford echoed what her brother Phillip shared. “We grew up in the neighborhood; we played down at Phelps—that was our park,” she recalled. “We started the event in the backyard but to accommodate the growing capacity, we moved the celebration to the park.

“We put in a big investment in our neighborhood, and we are really appreciative of the outpouring of support from the community,” Lisa Crawford continued. “Special thank you to our partners The Power of People Leadership Initiative, who brought the vaccinations and health component, and Minnesota Chill Foundation, who brought the kids’ activities. We also thank the countless volunteers who helped us.”

Other sponsors of this year’s event include the Twins Care Nursing Service PCA, Inc.; U of MN Mobile Health Initiative; the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (MSR); Central High School Class of ‘76; Friendship Academy of the Arts; New Creation Baptist Church; Urban Touch Barbers & Salon; Sabathani Community Center; Friends of Angela Conley; Girls Taking Action; Black Nurses Rock; The Frazier Group; Anika Foundation; T. A’s Automotive; 38th Street D.Q.; Messianic Care; LSE Architects; ​and ​Stay Safe MN​.​

The MSR spoke to attendees at this year’s event and asked: Why is it important for you to support Southside Back in the Day? See their answers below as well as a gallery of photos.

Photo by Nikki Love Kathleen Johnson

It’s the most important thing we can do; it’s the neighborhood I grew up in. I grew up a few blocks away on 31st, so we had to sneak up to this park. We met different kids and people from different areas. You have to support the community cause it’s everything, this is the only way are all going to make it together.

I do not come every year usually because I’m usually working at my business Wholesoul Eatery or singing at an event. I usually miss it but I’m happy to have come this year. Let’s all understand we have to support one another; we have to be positive, lift each other up, or do whatever we can do to make things as great as this particular event, which happens every year.

Kathleen Johnson

Photo by Nikki Love K.G. Wilson

Well, as one of the community leaders and one of the elders over the youth, I must come out here. I must meet and greet the people; I must let the young people see that I’m a part of this. I need to get in the presence of the elders so I can receive some of the wisdom from some of the elders that are here.

And if I get the chance, like today, to inspire and encourage people to continue this Back in the Day, I will because this is historic. It is something that needs to happen this year. And we need to instill this into our young people so they can continue this event long after we’re done. I’m here every year.

K.G. Wilson

Photo by Nikki Love Laverne

Supporting Back in the Day for me is to allow the young people today to know what privilege is and what things we had back in the day. To be here and to support in any way I can is important. I want to bring my kids and grandkids so they can continue with the next generation. I support this event every year!

— Laverne

Photo by Nikki Love Johnny Ray Robinson

I grew up in this neighborhood on 35th & Columbus all my life. It’s important to the neighborhood—it’s something we need. We’ve got to help these kids! These kids are out of control! Somebody’s gotta do something. I’m a family man—big family. Family gotta get involved. We can’t count on the police all the time, the families have got to get involved. Community, we gotta get involved! Cause something has got to get done. It hurts me to see these kids dying for nothing and nothing’s getting done.

Johnny Ray Robinson

Photo by Nikki Love Twaya McIntosh

We need to put it together and this will always be our community. Most of us grew up over here and went to school. We grew up with tight families. I make it here every single year. I’m from the Southside and won’t ever let it go. Each one should always teach one cause we belong together.

Twaya McIntosh

Photo by Nikki Love Kimuel Hailey

Because I grew up in the South Side, living here ever since ’73, moved over to Minneapolis and this has been my neighborhood, my family, and my friends. I DJ every year. It’s just a great get-together every year. It started out in Phillip’s and Lisa Crawford’s backyard with just five, seven, eight people, and then they invited more and more and it got big in their backyard and it kept growing and growing, and now look at this. If you’ve never been to this event, you need to come to this event on Labor Day weekend—it is great!

Kimuel Hailey


There are so many reasons, growing up in South Minneapolis, 36th and Park. There is diversity, community, education, and everyone looking out for each other. Overall, it’s just a blessing to come from the City of Minneapolis itself. Supporting Southside Back in the Day, I have accomplished many things being with them. I have received an award for my volunteerism services. It’s a family affair that’s all love. I come out and support every year because of family; it’s good food, entertainment, and love. To
my community, please be safe!


Click on the photos below to enlarge. Photos by Steve Floyd and Travis Lee.

— Paige Elliott contributed to this story