Labor Day was once a quiet weekend in the Triangle – but not anymore. A major downtown festival is fast becoming a yearly tradition.
This weekend marks the third annual African American Cultural Festival, and organizers say it is growing each year. They expect at least 25,000 people during this year’s two-day run.
Events run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The festival will be on Fayetteville Street, from Martin Street to City Plaza, and will include live music on several stages, an international art market and dozens of merchandise and food vendors.
If you take the kids, you will want to visit Family Village in front of the Wake County Courthouse. There, kids can do art activities and learn about African-American culture and traditions from storytellers, dancers, quilters and cheerleaders.
The Family Village runs until 7 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday.
Children can make a spirit mask or cowtail switch to take home, work on a story quilt or find their place in a chain of ancestral links.
“This is the only festival downtown that looks at African-American traditions,” said festival administrator Pat Hall. “There’s something for everyone, young and old.”
Hall said the festival was created to fill the void when the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s yearly basketball tournament left Raleigh in 2008. The tournament of historically black colleges and universities was a major social event for African Americans from the Triangle and beyond.
Hall said she hopes the festival will appeal to a diverse crowd of people who want to learn about an important part of North Carolina culture.
For more information, go to aacfralwake.org.
• If you’re looking for a fun event Friday to kick off the holiday weekend, try Music on the Front Porch at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Inn. From 5 to 8 p.m. families can hang out under the inn’s oaks and magnolias and listen to bluegrass from the band Down River. There’s no charge to listen, but you can buy an affordable picnic dinner, and grownup drinks are available. Go to carolinainn.com to purchase your picnic in advance.