St. Louis African Arts Festival headed to Forest Park over Memorial Day weekend
The 27th annual St. Louis African Arts Festival takes up residence at the World’s Fair Pavilion at Forest Park from Saturday through Monday.
The festival aims to educate people in St. Louis about the wide ranges of cultures among African nations and the African diaspora.
“Without the influence from Africa, I don’t think the United States would be what it is today — the inventors, the culture, the music, the dance, the religion,” said Gerald Brooks, chair of the African Heritage Association of St. Louis, which organizes the event.
“It’s important for people to know — especially non-African-Americans — how important and what a role people from Africa and the African diaspora played in the shape of this country,” Brooks said.
Festival founder Cynthia Cosby said she expects as many as 20,000 visitors over the event’s three days.
The event offers a variety of experiences, spread across a main performance stage, African marketplace, food court, an area devoted to health and wellness and a spot for teens to gather, plus various cultural demonstrations and kids’ activities.
“You see it but you also smell it, you hear it, you taste it. It’s like a small village that we put together there,” Brooks said.
The St. Louis Art Museum will offer docent-led tours of its African holdings and St. Louis Zoo will highlight animals native to Africa. The MUNY hosts a free screening of “A Small Act,” a 2010 documentary film about a Kenyan man who created a scholarship fund for promising students there.
Scheduled performers include the Kuumba Youth Performance Ensemble, storyteller Glenn “Papa” Wright Jr., St. Louis Boogie Brass Band, East St. Louis Community Performance Ensemble, dance troupes Tribe Ayaka and Spirit of Angela and spoken-word performers Phree, Jay Luuve, Greg the Poet and the St. Louis Poetry Slam Team.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jeremydgoodwin