Celebrate African Heritage at the African Festival of the Arts

African Festival of the Arts

Experience a four-day immersion into African culture and heritage at the African Festival of the Arts in Chicago’s Washington Park on September 4-7, which becomes transformed into an authentic African village during the Labor Day holiday weekend. Over 300 vendors and artisans from Africa and the African Diaspora will present artifacts, textiles, traditional crafts and museum quality art. Enjoy the global arch of African influenced food, music, and dance traditions during an entertainment rich, family-focused celebration.

Each year, the grounds of the African Fest come alive as a simulated African village, replete with special-interests pavilions featuring African drumming; colorful and rich fabrics; hand-crafted fine arts; interactive demonstrations; health and wellness workshops; spectacular jewelry; children’s programming; author and book readings; and captivating entertainment.

Highlights include:

Bank of the Nile (Food Court): Senses come alive as mouth-watering smells lead to a food court rich in delectable and authentic African-cuisine. Experience exotic fare from the diverse cultures of Africa including Egusi from Nigeria; Wolof rice from Senegal; Jerk chicken, goat-meat and fish from the Caribbean; and other spicy, appetizing dishes from across the African Diaspora. And don’t miss out on the distinct Cajun and Soul foods from the different corners of the world.

Bernice Garnder Children’s & Family Pavilion: Youth of all ages can enjoy games, music, dance, storytelling, theater arts, drumming, and crafts all day long! Social service agencies will be represented in the pavilion to provide answers to family, parenting, educational, and children’s questions.

Dr. Nurudeen Olowopopo Health & Wellness Pavilion: Join in fun fitness activities with Line Dancing, African Dance, Weight Training, great music and more!  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Presents the 2015 Health and Wellness Village and invite all ages to Get Moving and Get Active in the “Family and Youth Tennis Carnival” Saturday-Monday. In addition, the University of Chicago Medicine, Walgreens, and Inner Focus/Visalus will provide important health resources and screenings for the entire family.

Film Pavilion: This year’s film series is presented by the Gene Siskel Film Center, BIG (BlacksInGreen.org), and the founders of ICE Theaters. Enjoy a variety of films that celebrate the heritage and history of black experiences everywhere. Plus, documentaries that support self-sustaining communities now and in the future, and an exploration of stories that mix faith with Hollywood.

Author & Book Pavilion: Browse and shop for great book deals then hang around to meet, greet, and enjoy readings by best selling and emerging authors. In the past featured authors have included Patrice Gaines, mother of Hip Hop artist Mos Def, and rap mogul Master P, Pam Grier, Sharon McGhee, Sister Claudette Muhammad, Susan Peters, MC Lyte, Tyrese Gibson, Cora Dunham, Toyin Ayeni, Haki Madhubuti and many more renowned griots.

Quilting Pavilion: Needles and Threads hosts the Quilting Pavilion to showcase the ageless tradition that has cultural significance across the African Diaspora. From slave codes to storytelling, quilting seamlessly connected generations of Africans to the Motherland. Festival-goers can visit the Quilting Pavilion to learn about the craft, gain insight to the intricate stitching and techniques like appliqué, piecing and embroidery. You are also invited to bring old family quilts for restoration lessons. Enjoy the breathtaking vibrant colors and fabrics that make this textile artistry a lasting cultural legacy.

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