Twenty-years ago it spanned the entire Henry Meir Festival Grounds. Tough social times in Milwaukee’s Black community that spilled over from the 1980s, entrenching the 1990s and 2000s, eventually dried African World Festival to dust. Over the past three years, African World Festival has made a quiet comeback carried by the regular everyday-working, tax-paying, and unheralded Black people that the mainstream Milwaukee media outlets tend to forget reside North of I-94 and live typical American lives.
The bivouacs of local and national independent vendors have strengthened with renewed enterprising energy. Ample traditional African jewelry, clothing and accessories lend roots to contemporary artisan jewelry and fashion, silver craft and high style fedoras capturing attention easily. A mature selection of jazz and R&B musicians keeps things family friendly and mature.
Last year, anybody writing African World Festival off missed out on a classic afternoon performance by Roy Ayers. Today, Milwaukee’s R.A.S Movement, headlined by American Idol phenom Niama Adedapo, upbeats the stage (I got conflicting show times one says it happened already and one says 8p, but definitely worth a cover on some other occasion) and at 10p tonight Angie Stone brings some neo-oldy but goodies to the microphone. Many other performances of R&B and Gospel will also coincide with what is touted to be the largest Step Music DJ set in Milwaukee yet.
R.A.S Movement at the High Noon Saloon, Madison via NickyRondinelli
…And of course you can eat. Southern style food is the flavor of the day and night, and plenty of festival corn stands are around to compete with Wisconsin State Fair. Available Pan-African cuisine takes fair goers taste buds abroad.
Graciously and earnestly, Mayor Tom Barrett took time out of his Saturday afternoon to declare the first weekend in August African World Festival days. African World Festival ends tonight at midnight and opens again tomorrow at noon.
Additional Note: Despite what the JSOnline reported the Festival admission is $17 (not $12) which I was still happy to pay.
African World Festival picks up steam, Yolanda White, Shepherd Express