Jackson community fights homelessness with third annual Krewfest

The third annual Krewfest will take place on Saturday, with co-organizer Hunter Cross delighted to collect supplies for homeless locals.

The event, which will be held in partnership with Area Relief Ministries (ARM) and the Regional Interfaith Association (RIFA), will see a lineup of artists perform at the New Southern Hotel.

“We’re going to be in business for five years, and this is our third annual Krewfest,” Cross said, standing in the stacks of vinyl records in his store.

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Cross explained that the inspiration for the event came from his experiences as a downtown business owner.

“It happened because I constantly see displaced people and homeless people, and I always had this visceral, painful reaction of being cold,” he said. “So I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in their situation. And I know we don’t live in places like Chicago where it’s common – people freeze to death – but it’s very uncomfortable walking around in worn out shoes, no jackets, stuff like that.

The Salvation Army picked up 24 homeless people and three dogs at 11 a.m. from the Rodeway Inn and transported them to the Carl Perkins Civic Center Emergency Heated Shelter on Tuesday, February 17, 2021 in Jackson, Tennessee.

Efforts to address downtown homelessness have become even more important after a man died from exposure in downtown Jackson in the winter of 2020.

“So I asked myself: what is the bare minimum that I can do for these people?” he said. “And so we thought of a coat drive – and that was the idea all along was to have a coat drive. We’re teaming up with RIFA and ARM while celebrating vinyl and live music.

Cross asks those present to bring a winter coat, boots, especially work boots, or non-perishable food items.

“Last year we ended up with a real truckload of clothes – it would be nice to hit that threshold or exceed it,” Cross said.

The event will kick off with a little acoustic preview at the Turntable Coffee Counter on Saturday morning.

Third Eye Curiosities owner Hunter Cross, Mason Henson and Jake Davis perform outside of Cross's store during the International Food and Art Festival on Saturday, October 1, 2022 in Jackson, Tennessee.

For Cross, the opportunity to work with so many local businesses and partners helps bring energy to the cause.

“I think bringing the community together again is amazing,” he said. “It’s always nice to see people coming together to support each other. I don’t want to harass our town, but I don’t see much being done for the homeless, so I’ll do what I can.

Efforts to build an urban shelter for homeless men have been repeatedly stalled, with Mayor Scott Conger promising completion as a campaign promise if he is re-elected.

Lots at 125, 129 and 131 McCorry Street were cleared last week to begin construction of the new shelter.

“I want this event to show people that we care. Steps are being taken to make it a better place for displaced and homeless people,” Cross said. “And a lot of people in North Jackson aren’t even aware of the downtown issues, which gives them an excuse to come downtown.

“We can use the power of music and talent to bring people together for a good cause,” he added. “Learning an instrument and playing it is like a superpower and what better way to exhibit it than to give back?”

Artists like Tosh Newman, LOLO and Cross, among others, will perform starting at noon on Saturday at the New Southern Hotel.

Got a story to tell? Contact Angele Latham by email at [email protected], by phone at 731-343-5212, or follow her on Twitter at @angele_latham.