Event organizers say that this year’s edition of the annual Kuumba Festival will be unlike any before it.
Featuring new local and regional entertainment, this year’s version of the festival created in 1990 to celebrate African American cultural contributions will offer something unseen to even those most experienced Kuumba attendees.
The festival begins at 10 a.m Saturday at Market Park at the corner of Lees Mill and Produce Market roads in Laurinburg.
“We are using more local talent than in the past,” said Bettie McNair, one of the festival’s many organizers.
With music, art, storytelling, dance, worship, fashion and food the attraction to the increasingly popular festival is different for everyone, McNair said.
“Personally, I love any kind of music,” McNair said. The festival’s music, which will this year include jazz, R&B, drums, gospel and much more has the potential to even excite those who normally would not find themselves dancing or singing, McNair said.
“You see people patting their feet that probably would never move their feet.”
With “something for everyone,” this year’s festival, like all before it, is based on a single core theme, McNair said.
All of the performers, art, vendors and displays are presented with the goal of educating people about the many and varied contributions made by African Americans to our culture.
Meaning “creativity,” the word “kuumba” has come to characterize the spirit of the festival.
“(The festival and its acts) are about personal self-expression,” McNair said.
There is also a vein of spirituality running through the 2012 festival. On the schedule is a devotional service where festival attendees will give thanks to God.
For adventurous eaters, this year’s festival will also feature spicier food than ever before, and that is all right with McNair.
“I’m happy that they are now using some traditional spices more, like curry and peppers.”
Solid classic dishes will also be available to those looking for reliable items like collard sandwiches.
For children there will be entertainment designed specifically for them as well as an arts and crafts center.
McNair credits the celebration’s expanding popularity to word of mouth.
“People tell others that they had a really good time, and it grows from there,” McNair said.
Most of all, McNair says that the festival is meant to be open and welcoming to all people.
The 2012 Kuumba Festival will be preceded by a pageant starting tonight at 7 p.m. at North Laurinburg School. Open to girls age 8-17, the festival will award three age groups; Miss Kuumba (for older children), Jr. Queen, and Princess (for ages 8-10).
Admission to the festival is free and admission to the pageant is $5.
2012 Kuumba Festival Events Schedule
A Slice of Heritage
10 AM Opening Ceremony
MC EZ Hutch - Mr. Michael Hutchins
Welcome - Mayor, City Manager, County Manage, AAHC Vice President
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” - Mr. Tony Spaulding
Prayer - Rev. Garland Pierce
10:30 AM - Libation Ceremony - Rev. Darell Gibson
11 AM - Drum Ceremony - WO’SE of Charleston
11:20 AM - KUUMBA/AAHCI History - Rev. Helen McLean
11:30 AM - African Dance - WO’SE Of Charleston
12 Noon - Miss KUUMBA Celebration
12:30 PM - Victory Dance - Elite Dance Academy
1 PM - Storytelling - Val Jones
1:45 PM - Fashions on Parade - Essie and the Gang
2:15 PM - Jazz - Speller & Company
3:15 PM - Gospel Explosion - BHR Drama Team; Nazareth Church Choir