OZY Fest 2017
On Saturday, July 22nd, in the heart of Central Park, guests filled the outdoor showground of Rumsey Playfield for OZY Fest 2017. The outdoor festival boasted an exceptional line-up of comedians, speakers, and performers for a daylong extravaganza of fun, food, and entertainment. Throughout the day names such as Katie Couric, political insider, Van Jones, Saturday Night Live Weekend Update co-host, Michael Che, Zara Larsson, and Jason Derulo would take the stage in front of the thousands in attendance.
The playfield was transformed into a town of OZY Fest design, with multiple stages, food stands, and shopping tents for the ultimate festival feel. Consecutive acts from noon to nine encouraged guests to take a seat on the lawn, grab something to eat, and come and go as they pleased. Celebrity chef and culinary expert, Eddie Huang, organized the menu, serving dishes of spicy, gourmet taste such as chicken lime tacos and mixed rice bowls. Ice pops and refreshing lemonades were the perfect summer treat to help beat the heat.
Carlos Watson and Katie Couric kicked off the event with an introductory segment on the Main Stage. Drag queen sensation and personality, RuPaul, shared insight and personal experiences with the audience, followed by a performance from the talented up and coming artist, Kamau. Mark Cuban and Carlos Watson took the stage to explain their experience with success and offer words of wisdom. Other commentary acts followed including talks, “Third Rail With Ozy” and “Is It Really that Funny?” with speakers Samantha Bee, Malcolm Gladwell, Jeb Bush, Mark Cuban and Katie Couric. Musical performances from artists, Yuna ,Talib Kweli, and Zara Larsson, preceded an hour of comedic entertainment from Saturday Night Live’s very own, Michael Che. Headlining the evening and concluding the main stage entertainment was the top-hit recording artist, Jason Derulo.
The Town Square stage introduced political speakers throughout the day as well as industry leading professionals. Dr. Jill Biden discussed her past in a talk titled “When I was 23” and her husband, former Vice President, Joe Biden, surprised attendees with an unannounced appearance to share a few of his own words. In separate talks, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand shared her views on the Democratic Party and Jeb Bush discussed his views on the Republican Party. Together, Maysoon Zayid, David Perry, Sinead Burke, and Victor Pineda engaged in a conversation about the art of inclusion in the political scene. CEO of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe, spoke to the crowd of her experience of working while dating.
A third stage, 1818, also hosted entertainment throughout the day with talks from the event’s chef, Eddie Huang, snack expert, Deuki Hong, as well as Adam Grant, Glynn Washington, Eugene S. Robinson, Hakeem Oluseyi, and Rep. Karen Bass.
OZY Fest is a yearly event hosted by the publication, OZY. The idea behind OZY is to support open-mindedness and forward thinking, in addition to being a knowledgeable source of the happenings of today. The stories reported by OZY are of political interest, as well as of environmental, social, and economic importance. The discussions of OZY Fest emphasize the mission of OZY and their free thinking, cultural and societal values.
Special thanks to Kerri from Shore Fire Media