A global gathering of retailers and patrons to the annual International African Arts Festival are enthusiastically anticipating the July 4 start of the four-day outdoor calendar event, which combines cultural activities with a diverse cross-continental serving of family-friendly engagement to deliver Brooklyn’s best.
For the 48th year, the 10 am to 9 pm Independence Day weekend promise fun filled engagement with assurances of a myriad symposia, entertainment, unique items for purchase all scheduled to provoke edification and contemplation.
Patrons will unite for revelry from two stages when drummers, dancers, liven crowds inside Commodore Barry Park at Flushing Ave. and Navy St.
Among the list of stellar performers Jamaica’s Etana and Harlem’s own Ray Chew, the musical director of the reality TV show “Dancing With The Stars.”
And while fans will want to see and hear the celebrity lineup of entertainers others will be driven to attend in order to sample the diverse culinary offerings blended to appease the appetite.
For sure roast corn vendors will be in abundance.
Stewed and jerked chicken, oxtails, curry goat, escoveitch fish, roti and other Caribbean delights along with rice and peas, boiled yam, bananas, plantain, hard dough bread, coconut cakes and pastries are bound to satiate the senses of those hankering for a taste of the Caribbean.
Asian cuisine is usually in the mix.
Southern style fried fish and chicken are also popular provision from vendors who travel near and far to deliver proof that their recipe ranks among the tastiest when paired with macaroni and cheese, collard greens and potato salad or eaten solo.
Carrot cake and bean pies will likely emerge wherever a member of the Nation of Islam present a copy of the latest edition of the Muhammad Speaks newspaper.
However, most patrons will be enticed by the African marketplace that at the very least, guarantee eye-candy and an opportunity to bargain for the best agreeable price deal.
Vendors from the four regions of Africa annually take their wares to the market.
From jewelry, beads and ornaments, wooden and metal crafts, art, fabrics, skirts, shirts, pants, dresses, hats, footwear, furniture, soaps of all kinds — look for the Shea butter vendor by the tree, he’ll be the one with the smoothest, most healthy-looking skin.
And several masseurs will be readily available to provide neck and back rubs.
Often situated nearby the organic juice stands where long reeds of sugar canes are squeezed to a pulp, mango, cucumber, apples, oranges get the same treatment.
Take this insider’s advice, try the sour-sop juice, I understand it has healing properties.
Chess tournaments, martial arts exhibitions, fashion and natural hair shows, a talent search, kids play zone, dance workshops, lemonade and snow cones and other novelty treats will be readily available for enterprising movers and groovers.
Incidentally, a few politicians mark this spot in an election year.
They rely on its reputation for attracting huge attendance that might swing a voting bloc in their favor. This off year for elections might find them scarce for handshakes however, always making the scene will be Inez and Charles Barron, the Brooklyn political couple attempting to make a dent in state and city constitutions.
As a matter of fact throughout the years three generations of Barrons have been making the scene. Last year a grandchild carved his own niche in the soil for personal play.
African historians Dr. Leonard Jeffries and his wife Rosalind are another power couple who annually make the holiday a must stop date despite their busy cultural calendar of events on the continent.
“Ya Tond La taara” is the theme of the 48th annual.
From the Mossi people of Burkina Faso the phrase translates to mean “We Are All As One.”
Organizers explained that this 2019 outing will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the East Cultural and Education Center, an institution founded by ancestor Jitu Weusi and Aminisha Black.
In the Midwest, the Festival of Life celebration repeats in Chicago.
Patterned from the same Brooklyn template African and Caribbean talents distinguish the offering founded by Jamaican promoter Ephraim Martin.
Perhaps the biggest gathering of July 4 holiday weekend revelers will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Essence Music festival.
Slated for the New Orleans Superdome, Michelle Obama, the avowed forever first-lady will deliver a keynote address. Eighty musical artists are billed to perform including Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu, and Missy Elliott.
Among others Al Sharpton will moderate a discussion.
He has attended every year since the festival began.
Senator Kamala Harris and a long roster of Democratic presidential candidates are expected to register attendance.
Happy holidays, eat hearty and have fun.
Catch You On The Inside!