LAURINBURG —The Kuumba Festival returns this weekend with its annual focus on food, family and fun.
The festival — in its 26th year — will begin on Friday night with a pageant, then resume on Saturday morning with a day-long festival to showcase and celebrate contributions to everyday life by African-Americans.
The Kuumba pageant will help pick a queen to reign over Saturday’s festivities. It begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $8 at the door. For children 5 to 12, tickets are $5.
Saturday’s events will begin at 10 a.m. in Market Park, located at 17100 Lee’s Mill Road.
The free festival is expected to draw up to 3,000 visitors, many wearing colorful dashikis and other traditional attire from various parts of Africa,who will be entertained by an array of local and regional talent, all in celebration of African-American culture. Kuumba mean creativity in Swahili.
Ayinde Hurrey and his African American Dance Ensemble will help open the festival. There will also be arts and crafts and activities for children.
“We are going to stay true to same format as years past, but we want to enhance the legacy and tradition of the festival, which has been around for a quarter of a century,” said Daniel Dockery, the president of the African American Heritage Committee, the group organizing the festival. At the same time, we want to also grow the festival through a power packed list of performers.”
Food vendors will be serving up everything soul food, from barbecued chicken and ribs, collard sandwiches, fried turkey legs and fish, sweet potato and pecan pies and other down-home delicacies. Other vendors sold African-themed attire, walking sticks and less exotic arts and crafts. About 50 vendors are expected to take part this year.
The pageant will begin with a story told by local storyteller Tyris Jones.
“It is a story about 11 young flowers that all come from the continent of Africa and represent 11 African countries who have been blessed to blessed to go out into the world,” Jones said.
The 11 contestants are:
Kuumba Princess contestants, Jacee Robinson and Ja’Niyah Baker;
Kuumba Jr. Princess contestants, Daeshonda Patterson, Denise Lynch and Jordan Harris;
Kuumba Queen contestants, Kayla Covington, Chloe’ Strickland, Diamond Harrington, Raven Gordon, Shaleyah Monai Fleet and Mary McLean.
The winners of the 2016 Kuumba Pageant will be crowned at noon on Saturday.
“The pageant is going to be a great kick off for the festival — these young ladies have worked tirelessly for the last three months,” Dockery said.
During the pageant, the Celebration Choir will perform two African songs will be sang — one in the native language of the Zulu Tribe and the other in Swahili.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171