Family Picks

Family Picks: African American Cultural Festival in downtown Raleigh

CorrespondentAugust 29, 2013 

The lead group of the African American Dance Ensemble will kick off the Family Village dance workshop at 12:00 during the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County on Saturday.


There’s plenty to do in the Triangle for those who aren’t headed to the beach this Labor Day weekend.

The big event is the fourth annual African American Cultural Festival in downtown Raleigh. More than 20,000 people are expected to flock to Fayetteville Street to see more than a dozen live gospel, jazz and rhythm and blues performers.

The festival also includes an international art market and dozens of merchandise and food vendors.

It runs 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

For families with children, the Family Village is a must, with far more offerings than the typical festival kids’ zone.

In the village, you can watch high-energy dance performances by troupes in wild and colorful African dress. You can also participate in workshops on dance, jazz and African drumming. And you can hear three different storytellers.

One of the highlights will be the African American Dance Ensemble, which will open the Family Village with a performance at noon on Saturday. This wildly fun dance troupe from Durham celebrates traditional African culture and values to encourage cross-cultural understanding.

In addition, the Elegba Folklore Society will engage children in traditional African crafts such as mat weaving, fabric design and crown making. Kids can also make a block to add to the 2013 African American Cultural Festival quilt.

The Family Village is open 11:30 a.m.-7:45 p.m. Saturday and 1:30-7:15 p.m. Sunday.

The African American Cultural Festival was created to fill the void when the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s yearly basketball tournament left Raleigh in 2008. The tournament, which features teams from historically black colleges and universities, was a major social event and gathering spot for African-Americans from the Triangle and beyond.

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Paperhand Puppet Intervention

This is also the fourth of six weekends that the Paperhand Puppet Intervention will be performing at Chapel Hill’s Forest Theater.

If you have never seen this group’s annual summer show, it’s a must-see experience featuring giant handmade puppets, stilt-walkers, shadow plays and stories. This very nontraditional puppet troupe says its goal is to promote justice, equality and peace.

They describe this year’s show, “Invisible Earth,” as “a paradoxical pageant of hope, impending doom and planetary possibilities.”

Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There is also a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday. No need to buy tickets in advance, but they do request donations (suggested $12 for adults and $8 for kids) at the door.

The show will also be performed at the N.C. Museum of Art from Sept. 13-15.

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