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At a staggering 85 degrees, this past Saturday was the first truly hot day of 2017. And what better way to enjoy the first taste of summer weather than socializing, dancing, and enjoying good food with fellow peers in the Black community? The first annual African American Cultural Festival debuted this past weekend, and it’s safe to say the event put on a good show and had quite a turnout!

The event took place on Long St. in the King-Lincoln District of Columbus, and was put on by the Columbus Recreation & Parks Department (along with assistance from the Department of Neighborhoods), and also was sponsored by various companies, such as Radio One, Power 107.5 radio station, AEP (American Electric Power) and plenty others. The show provided a multitude of entertainment and food alike, and was organized in great fashion.

Onlookers watching the BLAST Drumline perform (Photo credit: James Burke)

Entertainment consisted of a wide array of talent throughout the city, ranging from singers and live bands (such as: The Free Agents, Milton Ruffin and the Ohio Old School Funk Band, The Flex Crew, etc.), to drum line performers (BLAST), to dance steppers, to spoken word poetry (Underdog Academy), and more. At no point during the entire event was there ever a time where there wasn’t music to rock to or a stellar performance to be witnessed.

Vendors from throughout the city showed up to provide food, including Shrimp Lips (I tried the Lobster Fries and they were amazing!), Jerk Chicken food trucks, smoothies, and more. Other vendors present also encompassed Black artwork, makeup, cologne/perfumes, and more on display and for sale.

A small segment of the Long St. Cultural Wall (Photo credit: James Burke)

Along with all the aforementioned amenities, there was a KidsZone full of bouncy houses, rock climbing, and more. The Long St. Cultural Wall was on full display, which, if you’re not familiar with, showcases notable African American individuals throughout the city’s history that have helped Columbus’s community get to where it is today. Community and wellness resources were also provided, such as a booth to sign up for life insurance (an underappreciated and widely neglected necessity in the Black community) and surveys to inquire patrons of the city of what things can be improved on, such as mental health services, youth programs, etc.

All in all, the inaugural African American Cultural Festival was a huge hit. It was a perfect time for family and friends, provided a unique way to enjoy the many things that our community has to offer, and was free of charge for admission to top it all off! I think I can speak for all of us when I say the event was a major success, and we all look forward to it being back over the forthcoming years, and experiencing even more of all it has to offer.

Stay cool my friends,

– Chris Ray

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