The International African Arts Festival might need to be renamed the International African Arts Extravaganza announced long time host Adeyemi Bandele at the main stage in Commedore Barry Park, Brooklyn on Saturday. For good reason. The 44th edition of the festival was a spectacular success.
Headliners like Talib Kweli, Ayana Gregory, Living Colour and the Bambara Dance & Drum Ensemble each added their unique spirited flavor to one of the longest running African Arts Festivals in the country as if to make sure that the combination of their energy equaled more than the sum of the event’s live performances.
The International African Arts Festival held annually around the 4th of July weekend is a true celebration of Diaspora culture. Families from all walks of life come out to enjoy music, participate in games, eat food, see and buy a wide variety of hard to find art and fashion items varying from sculptures and paintings to handmade leather shoes, handbags and dresses.
Added to the program this year was a natural hair parade for kids entitled “I rock naturally.” Led by Nekhena Evens, author and loctitian from Brooklyn, the kids proudly paraded with colorful signs cheered on by visitors and bystanders.
All the way from Japan I rock naturally Parade Meeting familiar Faces
International visitors are not unique to this colorful African extravaganza. The festival attracts an estimated 75.000 people every year, not just from Brooklyn but from all over the United States and beyond. Often guests from Canada and the UK are spotted and this year there was a couple all the way from Japan. Not only did the man have dreadlocks, his companion was rocking a signature designer denim hat from Afrika Origins, one of the many vendors that add to the unique flavor of the festival. In harmony with the festival’s theme this year “Meadi” which means “We share” the couple was among one of the lucky ones who received free tickets to Amazing Grace the musical given away by Walk Tall Girl Productions.
This year the Bambara Dance & Drum Ensemble had the honors to close the festival. As usual the African festival’s last performance was spectacular with live dancing and drumming that got the audience on their feet even after a long sunny day out on the field, yearning for more. That only sent the message of mission accomplished: Tell everyone about the experience and bring them along next year for the 45th celebration!
See the full gallery of the International African Arts Festival 2015