African Festival of the Arts

Chicago is no stranger to cultural festivals, but one of the largest and best of the summer will be taking place this weekend, and it is a must see. The African Festival of the Arts is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is expecting a well over 300,000 people to visit the historic Washington Park to take on all of the festivities celebrating the African cluture.

The African Festival of the Arts was started by Patrick Woodtor and his wife Queen Bumni after he arrived in America in 1982. Due to some rough economic times, Woodtor had to sell a lot of his personal belongings just to survive. With the money he had, he opened a shop that sold African art. When the store became more popular, he decided to create the street festival in order to continue celebrating the African culture and helping teach other African-Americans about their African heritage and traditions. His wife, Queen Bumni is a singer and specializes in JUJU music. JUJU music is an African style of music that carries a heavy lyrical message about current affairs and advice for the betterment of society. She will be performing at one of the two large stages.

Each year, the AFA grounds are set up to simulate an African village, complete with multiple pavilions and markets that include African drumming, colorful fabrics and gowns, jewelry, health and wellness workshops, author reading and greetings, exciting entertainment and much much more! This year's theme will be "Cultural Connections" with the hopes that festival goers will learn a little bit more about their rich cultural ancestry and how they can connect it in their lives today. The AFA will also feature many different speakers, authors and pavilion hosts, that will emphasize the role of art and culture in violence prevention.

The AFA has always had great music acts and this year is no different. Grammy Award-Winning artist Musiq Soulchild will be headlining this years festival, but he will be following plenty of great local and nationally recognized artist like songwriter, producer and Jazz musician Cassandra Wilson Johnson; Salif Keita, Malian music ambassador and afro-pop phenom; Chicago's own iconic Dee Alexander; and the incredible Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards.

Advance tickets are still available! The festival will take place  throughout Labor Day Weekend, August 29 - September 1 in Washington Park, 5100 S. Cottage Grove, so be sure to stop by and celebrate one of Chicago's most popular cultural festivals!

Poster Courtesy of the African Festival of the Arts