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Freaknik announces new location for 2020 festival

A crowd gathers on the lawn to listen to music during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood on Saturday, June 22, 2019. About 15,000 tickets were sold to the event. (Photo: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC)
A crowd gathers on the lawn to listen to music during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood on Saturday, June 22, 2019. About 15,000 tickets were sold to the event. (Photo: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC)

After a week of uncertainty, the 2020 installment of Freaknik has a new home.

The music and cultural event, which is dubbed “Freak World,” will take place at Morris Brown College in downtown Atlanta June 19-21.

Organizer Carlos Neal of Atlanta-based After 9 Partners said the roads around the college will be closed to traffic and the 40-50 music acts he expects to book will perform in the Greek Plaza – which holds about 15,000 people – and the renovated gym across the street from the plaza.

Freaknik, which Neal reinstated in 2019 with a successful outing at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood, was originally booked to take place this year at Cascade Driving Range.

But last week, the contract Neal signed in December was deemed "invalid" after the property owners became aware of the event once it was publicized in the media.

Neal is pleased that Freaknik will benefit Morris Brown College and has classified the collaboration as a restoration effort for both entities – “Freaknik to a better reputation and Morris Brown to getting their accreditation back,” Neal said.

The college lost its accreditation and federal funding in 2002 following a financial scandal.

And, while hosting Freaknik at Cascade Driving Range didn’t transpire as planned, Neal’s relationship with Samuel Thompkins, an owner of the driving range who agreed to the since-invalidated contract, has flourished.

Thompkins steers the non-profit Another Way Out, which he established in 1992 to help put troubled kids on the right path, and some Freaknik proceeds will benefit his organization.

“We need to do (outreach) now more than ever,” Thompkins said. “At 73 years of age, I was thinking how much more can I do? I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel again. I think we’re on the verge of having something big happening. This is going to erase some of that negative stuff about Freaknik from 20 years ago. I was there when it happened and it ain’t like that now at all.”

Neal said the only minor changes that will accompany the new location are a slight increase in parking fees and ticket prices (tickets are currently on sale for $49.99 for a three-day general admission pass and $164.99 for three-day VIP via www.freaknikfest.com).

Last year’s Freaknik nearly sold out the 20,000-capacity Lakewood with a lineup that included Project Pat, Uncle Luke, Da Brat and Foxy Brown.

The teaser lineup announced for this year includes New Orleans rapper Juvenile and Florida exports 69 Boyz and 2 Live Crew (sans Uncle Luke).

Despite the unexpected drama, Neal is optimistic about the future of Freaknik.

“There’s so much good coming from this,” he said, “that I feel like it’s divine intervention.”

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