LAURINBURG — The threat of storms was long gone by the time the Tema Festival rolled into town Saturday, bringing people instead of puddles to downtown Laurinburg.
The two-day event included a variety of vendors, performers and spectators for the festival that takes its name from a town in Ghana.
“You always have to keep rolling in something new. This is a good street festival,” said state Rep. Garland Pierce said on Saturday.
Whether it was fresh lemonade, fried frog legs, funnel cakes, smoked turkey legs or shaved ice, the event marked the spot to find a array of cuisine for all the enjoy.
“The festival was a success, today was a great day. The festival was about coming together as a community,” said Clifford Patterson, a representative of Richard’s Seafood gallery, which was one of the vendors this weekend.
The festival was a place were culture was being sold in the forms of fashion and art that attracted 4,700 people on Saturday and 3,000 on Sunday. Many vendors over the weekend were selling African inspired clothing and art.
“The festival has a lot of different food and culture. Everyone I have experienced is very friendly and it’s good to see the community come together,” said Olivia Thoroughman, a student at St. Andrews University.
There was also a street side Civil War exhibit and the Black History 101 mobile museum, which was held in the Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast.
The Civil War exhibit was put on by Maurice Johnson, a member of the U.S. Colored Troops Black History Group. The exhibit showed off firearms used in the Civil War, Confederate and Union army swords, as well as the history of African American soldiers in the Revolutionary War through the 1940’s.
“The first casualty of the Revolutionary War was Crispus Attucks in 1770, black people got the right to vote in 1870. It only took 100 years, ” Johnson said sarcastically with a laugh.
Richard Griffin, otherwise known as Professor Griff from the 1980’s band, Public Enemy and Khalid el-Hakim, the founder of the Black History 101 Mobile museum shared their historical collection with the Tema Festival. The museum which showcased black history through music, civil rights leaders, pop culture icons and slavery.
“My favorite item of the museum changes a lot, but right now it is these crab shackles that rattle, which were worn by house slaves,” el-Hakim said.
“I have been with Khalid el-Hakim and the mobile museum for 10 years now, but Hakim has been collecting for 25 years,” Griffin said.
There were also young volunteers at the event encouraging people to register to vote.
“Access to the polls is a constitutional right given to all U.S. citizens and we want the young people to be involved in their government. The right to vote is important because it has been denied to so many,” said Rena McNeil, advisor for the Scotland NAACP Youth Council.
Saturday night, the Tema Festival also crowned its Miss Tema and Junior Miss Tema Queen’s as the inaugural Humanitarian Scholarship Pageant at Scotland High School.
Trejah Bostic was named Miss Tema Queen and Deijah McQueen was crowned the Junior Miss Tema Queen. Both winners have chosen to have $1,000 put towards a trip to Ghana in the summer of 2017.
Sunday featured live gospel music and assorted musical acts. Gospel singer David Spencer of Laurel Hill, was the opening act of the day.
“This Tema Festival is the first one, but it’s definitely not going to be the last,” said Terence Williams, one of the event’s coordinators.
Reach Nolan gilmour at 910-506-3171