Kuumba Fest celebrates with food, music, crafts

Members of the Watoto Dance and Drum Company dance down Gay Street during the KUUMBA Festival parade Friday, June 29, 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. (Photo by Wade Payne, Special to the News Sentinel)

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Members of the Watoto Dance and Drum Company dance down Gay Street during the KUUMBA Festival parade Friday, June 29, 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. (Photo by Wade Payne, Special to the News Sentinel)

The 24th annual Kuumba Festival will be held Thursday to Sunday at four locations in Knoxville — Krutch Park, downtown and Market Square, Haley Heritage Square, and Chilhowee Park.

Sponsored by African American Appalachian Arts and area businesses, Kuumba will feature 200 entertainers performing on two stages, demonstrations and services by more than 100 crafts people, and food vendors.

The word Kuumba is Ki-Swahili for “creative,” and the festival will “showcase the positive impact of diversity in East Tennessee,” said AAAA Executive Director Nkechi Ajanaku.

The festival begins with a kickoff luncheon at Krutch Park featuring Ekpe Abioto, an artist, percussionist, storyteller and drummer. On Thursday evening at Haley Heritage Square, Kuumba Kamp participants will celebrate the “Seeding the Garden in the Mind” graduation and rites of passage ceremony.

At 6 p.m. Friday, the Junkanu, a traditional parade featuring the Free Spirit Stilt Walkers, Kuumba Watoto Dance and Drum Company, and church and community groups, begins on Cumberland Avenue and ends at Market Square. Following the parade, attendees can enjoy the African Marketplace on Market Square, plus a live concert featuring reggae band EVER-G and The Crew.

There are a variety of activities on Saturday at Chilhowee Park, including an African marketplace. From 8-10 p.m., there will be music by “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard and Grammy nominee Alvin Garrett.

Sunday’s activities include “Gospel in the Park” from 3-6 p.m. and a Chilhowee Park concert from 7:30-9 p.m.

For more details, visit http://www.kuumbafestival.com.

News Sentinel staff

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