Performances by world-renowned jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, South African songstress Lorraine Klaasen, vocalist Julia Huff, musician Booker T. Jones, Congolese touring ensemble Soukous Stars, the first U.S. tour of the Cuban group Los 3 de la Habana, the dance group Spirit and more highlight one of the largest events focusing on Africa – the “must attend” 20th annual African festival of the arts that promises to “rock” Washington Park the Labor Day weekend.
Africa International House presents the 20th Annual Chrysler Financial African Festival of the Arts, Sept. 4 – 7, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., in Washington Park. (Enter at 51st and Cottage Grove.)
Jamal, a former Chicagoan, performs Sept. 6, 8:45 p.m., on the Dee Parmer Woodtar main stage. Tickets are $10 in advance; $15 at the gate; $30 for a weekend pass. Main stage VIP seating is also available. AFA celebrates 20 years of Africa and Africans throughout the Diaspora and especially in Chicago. Washington Park, located just a stone’s throw from President Barack Obama’s Hyde Park neighborhood, will be transformed into an African village filled with artists and artisans, music, dance, drumming, the exotic aroma of African cuisine and an expected 250,000 festival-goers seeking to experience the continent and culture of Africa.
This year’s theme, History, Traditions & Legends, which, says Patrick Woodtor (festival producer and Africa International House president), is indicative of the cultural influence of Africa from ancient times through present day and beyond.
“This year’s festival represents 20 years of our mission to educate our audiences about Africa, the cradle of all civilization, while celebrating her significance and impact on mankind,” Woodtor said.
As always, the festival offers something for everyone.
At the very heart of the festival is the African Marketplace featuring more than 300 artists and vendors with a variety of African and Afrocentric wares including fine art, artifacts, crafts, fashions, jewelry, masks, collectibles, baskets, beads, fabrics, textiles, museum-quality African art, furniture, household goods and gift items.
Additionally, the fine arts, film and quilting pavilions will have an array of offerings. The Children’s Pavilion will be filled with activity to entertain and educate young fest-goers. The Health and Wellness Village will be filled with activities focused on maintaining optimal health and fitness. The Spirituality Pavilion will explore ancient belief systems and the roots of religion.
Festival favorites such as the Drumming Village and the Bank of the Nile Food Court will keep visitors in Washington Park all weekend long.
The 20th Annual AFA presenting sponsor, Chrysler Financial, is joined by other sponsors, including State Farm Insurance, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, Target, Ill. Dept of Human Services, National Endowment for the Arts, Ill. Arts Council, Black McDonalds Operators Association, U.S. Bank, UIC Sickle Cell Center, Cricket, Chicago Park District, Wine Cellars Distribution, Chicago South Loop Hotel and United Africa Organization.
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