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Published: 7/12/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

African American Festival kicks off Friday

BY RONEISHA MULLEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Gospel singer Vickie Winans will perform at the festival on Sunday. Gospel singer Vickie Winans will perform at the festival on Sunday.
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The stage is almost set, performers are polishing their acts, and the cooks are icing the cakes, just in time for the 8th annual African American Festival.

The jubilee kicks off this weekend at the University of Toledo Scott Park campus.

Food, fitness, and carnival rides are just a few of the activities planned for the two-day festival, celebrating the history, culture, heritage and arts of the African American community.

The family-friendly event Saturday and Sunday also will feature concerts, a variety of food, cultural exhibits, and health and wellness screenings.

Although the festival is still relatively new, it is growing. It quickly outgrew Nelson Park, where the first festival was held in 2005, drawing a crowd of about 600. Attendance at last year's festival peaked at about 25,000 people.

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IF YOU GO

Admission to the African American Festival is $10 for adults 19 and over before 5 p.m. After 5 p.m. admission increases to $12. Seniors and children 18 and under are $5. Children three and younger are admitted free. Weekend passes are available for $16 and can be purchased until Friday at Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, 1339 Dorr Street.

For information, visit toledourban.com.

"When we're able to celebrate our culture, it's always a good thing," said gospel singer Vickie Winans, who will perform at the festival Sunday. "African-Americans are some of the most talented people in the world. For us to be able to celebrate our accomplishments and achievements, it's exciting."

Like in years' past, the festival will open Friday with a Prayer Breakfast. From 8 to 10 a.m. fair-goers will meet at Serenity Soul Food No.2, 725 Nebraska Avenue, for breakfast.

The official kickoff for the event is Saturday's parade. Assembly begins at 10 a.m. at the corner of Dorr Street and Smead Avenue. The march will feature Mecca Temple No. 43.

Festival gates will open at 1 p.m. Saturday and concerts begin at 2 p.m. with Imagine Schools, Dezire at 3 p.m., Jesse Coleman with the Jamm Band at 4:15 p.m., followed by Athena Johnson and Friends at 5:30 and bluesman Bobby G and Friends at 6:45 p.m. Soul and rhythm and blues group, Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, will take the stage at 8 p.m. Comedian Darrell Banks and R&B singer Cherrelle will also perform.

Worship has always played a major role in the black community. The festival will celebrate the significance that prayer and worship with gospel performances on Sunday.

The Toledo Youth Choir will perform at 2 p.m. Cornerstone Church Choir and the Toledo Interfaith Mass Choir will sing praises, starting at 3. Inspirational recording artist, Darius Coleman will take the stage at 5:30 p.m.

Keeping with tradition, national recording gospel act, the Rance Allen Group, will close out the festival, but not before Ms. Winans takes the stage to perform a variety show at 6:15 p.m.

"It's going to be a mix of concert and comedy," said Ms. Winans, who released two comedy DVDs this year, Unplugged and Hilarious Volumes 1 and 2. "We're going to laugh, we might cry, we're going to dance and we're going to worship."

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.



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