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ESSENCE Festival draws largest attendance in event's history to New Orleans

Over 540,000 attendees from around the globe descended upon New Orleans this Fourth of July weekend for the 19th annual ESSENCE Festival, making 2013 the largest in the event's 19-year history.

With an expanded cultural focus and renewed emphasis on family, the 2013 ESSENCE Festival celebrated its community of ESSENCE readers with an exciting array of entertainment and empowerment events; featuring more than 50 world renowned and up-and-coming performing acts and over 120 of the world's top artists, speakers, authors, leaders, innovators and celebrities.

"The ESSENCE Festival has grown to represent the tremendous joy and optimism that is present in the African-American community," said Michelle Ebanks, ECI President. "We celebrate our community of ESSENCE readers at the ESSENCE Festival -- where we come together to connect to our culture and our community -- and be renewed, inspired and transformed.  This year's record-breaking attendance is a testament to our purpose. We are extremely excited as we look forward to our 20th anniversary in 2014."

"What a thrill to witness the overwhelming response from hundreds of thousands of attendees as we took 'the page to the stage' at the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience," said ESSENCE's top editor, Vanessa K. Bush. "Focusing on family, relationships, culture and community, ESSENCE programs the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage each year to provide critical information, motivation, inspiration and practical solutions for the day-to-day challenges of our lives."

Highlights of the festival included a first-ever partnership with MSNBC to broadcast live throughout the weekend featuring shows PoliticsNation and Melissa Harris Perry, among others.

Coca-Cola announced that it will be extending its agreement as “Presenting Sponsor” and the official ESSENCE Festival beverage through 2015. “Our partnership with ESSENCE stems from our shared commitment of empowering and giving back to our communities,” said Lauventria Robinson, Vice President, Multicultural Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company. “This partnership offers an extraordinary opportunity to connect and engage with one of the most influential members of today's community – the African-American woman.” Coca-Cola has been the Festival's presenting sponsor for 18 of the last 19 years.

In addition to Coca-Cola, sponsors of the 2013 ESSENCE Festival included major sponsors Ford, McDonald's, My Black Is Beautiful, StateFarm, Verizon and Walmart as well as official sponsors MSNBC, Coors Light, TV One and Visa Prepaid.


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