Detroit’s largest ethnic festival, presented for the 30th year by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, establishes a proud new tradition this Friday as it is held on the Museum grounds, surrounding streets and connecting green spaces. The City of Detroit will close adjacent streets to accommodate one of the most widely anticipated events of the summer. Hours for the free festival are Friday, August 17 through Sunday, August 19, from noon - 11:30 p.m. each day. Museum will have extended hours during the festival: 9 am - 8 pm on Friday and Saturday, 1 pm - 5 pm on Sunday. The WSU parking structure on Warren just east of Woodward is available for $5.
The outdoor grounds will feature stages, more than 100 marketplace vendors, crowd-pleasing ethnic foods, visual arts, master crafts exhibitions and live demonstrations. Institutions in the cultural center, including Wayne State University, Midtown Detroit Inc. and the Scarab Club, are cooperating in welcoming the event to the area.
This year’s event showcases the talents of Detroit-based performers with careers that have taken them to the national and international stage Event highlights include:
• Noon opening with ambassadors from both Botswana and Namibia joining invited dignitaries, including members of the Detroit City Council, to open the festival on the African World Stage, behind the museum, on Farnsworth Street.
• Thunder Drums Tribute, by Griot Assante Kouyate, honoring the 125th Anniversary of the Birth of theHon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. 7 p.m.
• Dance tribute to honor the memories of: Haitian singer/activist Martha Jean-Claude, who exiled to Cuba was known as the “Daughter of Two Islands” ; South African singer/activist Miriam Makeba, known as Mama Africa; and, Nina Simone, African American singer/activist, known as the “High Priestess of Soul.” 8 p.m.
• Annual “Parade of Nations” featuring the International Caribbean Festival Parade will kick off from WSU at 11 a.m., moving east on Warren and arriving at noon for the day’s opening.
• Annual AWF Step Show Competition—Featuring representatives from the African-American Greek-letter organizations of the National Pan Hellenic Council. 3 p.m.
• Detroit Rocks the Runway! Fashion Design+Music+Dance extravaganza: “Hip Hop Gets Cultured”
• Spirit of the African World: Cardinal Mbiyu, Shrine of the Black Madonna Church; J. Sulli, Christian Rap 1pm
• Saluting the 1983 Festival Committee: Catherine Blackwell, Edward Vaughn, Shahida Mausi,Audley Smith, Phyllis Sancho, Joe Sancho, Judge Craig Strong, Rep. Nelson Saunders, Sadiq Bey. Honoring Our Ancestors: Dr. Charles Wright; Tribute to Our She-roes & Heroes: JoAnn Watson, 4 p.m.
• Soul Train Line tribute to Don Cornelius and the Soul Train legacy! 6 p.m.
• Detroit Reggae All-Stars with Detroit Renegade musicians. 8:30 p.m.
• Notorius Entertainment, Detroit-based, nationally-performing R&B musicians.10 p.m.
This 30th anniversary event will also feature:
• The King Center Imaging Project, courtesy of JP Morgan Chase & Co. has been erected in the Museum’s Ford Freedom Rotunda as is free to the public during the Festival. Other exhibitions include Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney, The Chris Webber Collection, and And Still We Rise, all free with Museum admission, which is $8 for adults (13 - 61), and $5 for youth (3 - 12) and seniors (62 +); Museum members and children under 3 are free.
• Live sculpting of major 30th Anniversary Commemorative Stone Sculpture. Each day.
• The accompanying Community Art Project allows visitors, for $5, to decorate a tile that will be placed at the base of the sculpture when it is complete. Each day.
• Clear Channel Radio Zone with live broadcasts on WMXD Mix 92.3 and FM 98 WJLB. All Day Sat. & Sun.
• “Good Times” Thelma—BerNadette Stanis with a book signing. All day Saturday & Sunday.
• Health is Wealth presentations inside the Museum, led by Detroit Wholistic Center. All day Saturday and Sunday.
• Dance Workshops, Quilt Demonstrations, Head Wrapping Demo,
• Watoto Chidren’s Village – Festival of Fun for our Youth: Stage performances, games, prizes and “make & take” fun for children and families. Saturday & Sunday noon – 8 p.m.
• Exhibits celebrating the best of the festival’s past—an outdoor photo display that creates a timeline and an indoor display of AWF memorabilia and video recordings.
• The Heritage Works African Folklife Village will present a weekend of traditional crafts demonstrations, African drum and dance performances and audience interactions.
• Vocalists Thornetta Davis and Monica Blaire in The mastery of Detroit jazz icons Faruq Z. Bey and R&B vocalist Belita Woods, Blues tribute honoring Johnnie Basset. Tribute jam sessions. Saturday 7 p.m.
• The historic Scarab Club will host an evening of local poets, visual artists and performance artists on Sunday.
• There will also be informational sessions on issues ranging from community economic development to health, and a full range of entertainment and cultural activities for festival goers of all ages.
The Wright Museum is proud to continue its 30-year legacy of hosting the city’s largest celebration of African culture, made possible by the commitment and perseverance of many civic, business and community leaders championing the significance of such an affirming and uplifting celebration. These partners include Councilwoman JoAnn Watson; Heritage Works Director Rhonda Greene; Detroit Wholistic Center CEO Jesse R. Brown; Detroit Black Community Food Security Network; the Caribbean Cultural & Carnival Organization; the United African Community Organization; as well as the Michigan Chronicle; Michigan Citizen; and the official AWF radio partner, Clear Channel, through their stations WMXD Mix 92.3 and FM 98 WJLB.
For more information the public is asked to visit the Festival website, www.AWFDetroit.com, call the Festival office at 313 / 494.5824 or email
. For media inquiries only, please contact Alicia Nails at 313 / 613.8369 or