Posted: 4:54 pm Thursday, February 13th, 2014
By Rodney Ho
Steve Harvey’s Neighborhood Awards, which he is moving to Atlanta this year from Las Vegas, will feature a four-day expo, and the signature awards show August 9 at Philips Arena highlighting great community leaders, businesses and churches.
Tickets go on sale March 7. (Pricing information has not been released. Last year’s at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas ranged from $126.90 to $168.90.)
Over the past 12 years, Harvey and his manager Rushion McDonald have gradually expanded the event, which has become increasingly popular with Harvey’s millions of fans. McDonald said he’d love to have the awards show televised at some point as well.
Harvey, who makes Atlanta his home and is heard locally on Majic 107.5/97.5 on the radio each morning, told me in an interview that he moved the event because “it’s better for my fan base. It’s not so far away. I think it will save them a lot of money in travel and hotel expenses. They can come and go as they please in a more centralized location… It can make it bigger, more fun.”
“Some of the action is not here, it’s in Vegas,” he acknowledges, “but who wants to lose all that money anyway?”
He hopes up to 150,000 people will attend over the four days.
“The awards show is the main draw, but there will also be the expo at the Georgia World Congress Center,” he said. “It’s like a huge bazaar… great food, entertainment, seminars, workshops.”
There will be a dozen different events, such as a step competition, a church choir competition. a live broadcast of Harvey’s radio show, a “Family Feud” live show and a Stand-Up Comedy Jam. You get get tickets for many of these events and get hotel information here.
McDonald said he prices will be lower than what they were in Vegas last year.
They’ll be a “White Party” on Friday where everyone will wear all white. He hopes to bring some big celebrities to present, sing and provide stand-up comedy throughout the weekend. (Names forthcoming.) He is also planning a “Steve Harvey Table Classics Championship,” which involves dominoes, spades and bid whist and prizes.
The event was originally called the Hoodie Awards but was changed last year to Neighborhood Awards to be more “palatable” to sponsors, Harvey said at a recent press conference at Atlanta City Hall, where Mayor Kasim Reed presided. Among the key sponsors are Ford, Wal-Mart and State Farm.
The 12 categories are voted on by Harvey’s fans who go on his Neighborhood Awards website.
Here they are:
Best High School Coach, Best Nail Salon, Best School Teacher, Best Car Wash, Best Church Choir, Best Soul Food Restaurant, Best Barber Shop, Best High School, Best Barbecue Restaurant, Best Beauty Salon, Best Church, and Best Community Leader.
Big-name celebrities introduce the awards and perform. Last year, Jaheim, Fantasia, Mary Mary,and Chaka Khan were among the acts who performed.
“When these people receive awards from these celebrities and stars,” Harvey said, “I think that’s the flip on the awards show that makes it unique.”
Here’s a sample from last year, where actors Tichina Arnold and RonReaco Lee named the best nail salon Poocheiz Pawz Nail Studio in Atlanta:
Last year, title sponsor Ford gave the Best Community Leader category winner $30,000 to be used towards their church or non-profit organization.
What makes him most proud of the event? “When you see this person who’s had this business for 15, 20, 25 years who has never been recognized for it. And they come up on a national stage and come down that aisle and those lights are just swerving through the crowd. They’re getting this round of applause and the music is playing and they walk up those steps and give that acceptance speech for the first time in their lives, that’s a great moment. I love the look on every last one of their faces.”
During the press conference, Harvey joked about how his ratings on Majic had gone up since his friend Frank Ski left the air on V-103. “I bought his house,” he said. “Make sure he don’t come back!” (Just a joke.)