Thousands of Chicagoans crowded into Washington Park on Labor Day evening for the final night of the African Festival of the Arts (AFA). The festival goers were not disappointed when Howard Hewett and Rose Royce took to the stage and delivered some show stopping performances. The concerts were a culmination of four days of African-influenced food, music, shopping, dance and entertainment. Nearly 300 vendors and artisans offered their artifacts, textiles, traditional crafts, and museum-quality art for sale to festivalgoers. The near perfect weekend weather drew impressive crowds, particularly for Monday evening.
The theme of this year’s festival was Ruwadzano, which means ‘togetherness’ in the Shona language. During this year’s event, AIH recognized the impact togetherness has in relationships, in business, and in service to community. This year’s Grand Baba was WGN’s Robert Jordan and the Grand Yeye was Diane Dinkins-Carr. Michelle Relerford of NBC 5 Chicago emceed the recognition alongside WGCI’s Dana Devine and Morocco Omari of the hit series Empire.
This year’s event also featured a tribute to Shelby Moore of Crawford Broadcasting, who was a board member of Africa International House, the non-profit umbrella organization that hosts the African Festival of the Arts.
Sponsors of the 2016 African Festival of the Arts include Chicago Park District, University of Chicago Medicine, ComEd, Next Level Health, Community Currency Exchange, Jewel/Osco, ISF Bank, the Chicago White Sox, Moneygram, and the Illinois Lottery. Media partners include: Comcast, NBCUniversal, WVON, Bronzecomm, the Chicago Citizen and the Chicago Crusader newspapers.
The African Festival of the Arts is one of the largest, and longest running festivals in the Midwest focused on African art and culture, and each year draws tens of thousands of people to Washington Park. Run by Africa House International (AIH), a 501©3 educational organization, the AFA is a four-day immersion into African culture and heritage as Chicago’s historic Washington Park is transformed into an authentic African village.
See more photos and activities of the Festival by visiting their social media sites at Twitter: @AfricanFestChi, Facebook: AfricanFestivaloftheArts, and Instagram: instagram.com/aihchicago.