The 46th Annual International African Arts Festival will return to Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, Saturday, July 1, through Tuesday, July 4, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The 2017 headliners are the legendary funk pioneer Fred Wesley and The New J.B.’s; son of the world-renowned Latin jazz icon Tito Puente, Tito Puente Jr.; reggae legend Denroy Morgan; and the world famous Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble.
Other distinguished featured artists are British Dependency, Matthew Whitaker, Ismael and the Radiant Select, Gary Nesta Pine, Milagro: Santana Tribute Band and Ohio’s Maestro Sounds, among other great artists.
Key highlights at the IAAFestival include the 28th Annual Symposium, a daily children’s program, a talent search, an arts and craft zone, a chess tournament, the annual natural hair show, a new fashion show, a health fair, a poetry and spoken word show, an Akom ceremony, martial arts exhibitions, dance workshops and many other attractions.
The International African Arts Festival began in 1971 as a fundraiser for the Uhuru Sasa School, a community-based initiative that educated youth and adults about African culture. The fundraiser was a small festival with about 20 arts and crafts vendors, local entertainers and food prepared by parents of the students who attended Uhuru Sasa School.
Approximately 2,000 people came to the event, and the fundraiser was a major success. That early format of integrating entertainment, food and marketplace drew increasing crowds annually and the event became known as the African Street Carnival. Four years later, the carnival was moved to the field at Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. There, the event became the African Street Festival.
Today, the event is known as the International African Arts Festival and has an estimated annual audience of 75,000. While still held in Brooklyn, the festival is now in its third transition to a larger venue. The original approach of showcasing local folk arts and entertainment has remained yet has simultaneously grown to include artists such as The Mighty Sparrow, Fela Kuti, Living Colour, KRS-1, Doug E. Fresh, Third World, Erykah Badu, India Arie, Ms. Lauryn Hill and many other nationally and internationally revered artists.
The park is located on Navy Street between Park and Flushing avenues in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. Appropriate for people of all ages, backgrounds and musical preferences, the admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children (suggested minimum donation). For general information, call 718-638-6700 or email email@example.com. The official website is www.IAAFestival.org.
IAAF is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @IAAFestival. For directions to the downtown Brooklyn city park, visit www.nycgovparks.org/parks/commodorebarrypark.