The Crusader Newspaper Group

Annual African Festival of the Arts (AFA) is a family affair

With the opening of the 29th African Festival of the Arts Friday, August 31 in Washington Park, the family focused festival has something for everyone. One of the largest and longest-running festivals in the Midwest focused on African art and culture, it draws tens of thousands of people who come for shopping, food and entertainment. The Festival opens from 1 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday – Monday.

The AFA is held annually over Labor Day Weekend. The Festival grounds come alive as Washington Park is transformed into an African village. Visitors are transported across the Diaspora with interactive engagements, vibrant drumming, museum quality and collectible artifacts, colorful and rich hand-woven fabric and textiles, and other program spaces.

The Grand BaBa and Grand YeYe for this year’s celebration are Reverend Jesse Jackson and Jacqueline L. Jackson. In southern Africa BaBa means “father” in many languages. YeYe is a Yoruba word meaning “mother.” They will be recognized on stage on Monday, September 3.

Interactive spaces include: Drum & Afro-Folk Village, Children and Family Pavilion, African Heritage Pavilion, African Spirituality, Wellness (Health) Village, Author & Book Pavilion, Fine Art Pavilion, Food Court, and the African Marketplace.

Tickets for these performances are included in the price of festival admission and may be purchased now beginning at $15. Visit for advanced purchases.

Entertainment at this year’s Festival includes Main Stage performances by Keyshia Cole, Twista, Shawnna, Angela Winbush, Seun Kuti and his Egypt 80 Band, the Chosen Few DJs and Mr. Boombastic, the one and only Shaggy. Ken Bedford hosts “Steppin’ Under the Stars” on Friday August 31.  There will also be a host of local area performers and DJs to round out the Labor Day weekend of entertainment.

Advanced tickets are now on sale for $15 by visiting Tickets include all of the festival activities, stages, pavilions and children’s activities, in addition to the world class musical entertainment.

Follow the AFA Experience on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #AFAChi.

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