Rain didn’t stop crowds from pouring in to the 23rd Annual St. Louis African Arts Festival Memorial Day, May 26th at the Worlds’ Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.
The arts, educational and cultural event was a virtual marketplace and entertainment hot spot for African foods from the African diaspora, colorful clothing, arts and crafts, health and beauty products, textiles and African artwork. The entertainment music and African dance.
The World’s Fair Pavilion was packed with vendors selling everything from African tea and coffee to beaded jewelry, scented oils, shea butter and African masks. It was a tight squeeze filtering through the crowds of people to get to the entertainment stage, children’s village, teen’s tent, art and education tent and African drum playing demonstrations on the other side.
The St. Louis African Arts Festival is family entertainment, cultural affair that attracts an ethnically diverse crowd annually on Memorial Day Weekend. According to stlafricanartsfest.com, the festival is an outgrowth of a Washington University in St. Louis 1991 Annual African Studies Conference. Its goal is to create global awareness of African contributions throughout the world in arts, culture and education.
Corey Logan, founder of Juice Masters, a St. Louis fresh fruit smoothie food truck, was a returning vendor at this year’s festival. He said, “The birth place of the Juice Masters was at the African Arts Festival. This is where we built our confidence at, our confidence in our product, and our ability to sell our product at this festival. So, it’s wonderful. It’s been a wonderful journey over the last three years, and now we’ve launched our food truck as a result of being at this festival.”
The Safari Teen Village provided special activities for young adults that featured discussions on relationships and dating, and African fashions. The Health Village offered exercise to the attendees.
And for the little ones, there was the Children’s Village. Young people created their own African beaded jewelry with the help of expert bead artists.
Lamar Hart, an educator in the St. Louis area who volunteered at the Children’s Village said, “The Children’s Village is just basically for the children we do arts and crafts…like today we did beaded necklaces…We did tie-dye bags… necklaces…The children painted them and everything.”
West African and Afro Cuban dance was exhibited on the main stage. Dedicated attendees sat in the pouring rain to see the female dancers show their belly dancing skills.
The St. Louis African Arts Festival is a community event. It is scheduled to return Memorial Day Weekend 2015 to Forest Park. African Artis festivals are hosted by cities nationwide annually. Two other cities that will host major African Arts festivals this summer are New York and Chicago.