Thursday, July 27, 2000

Ujima celebrates heritage

Festival complements music

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        More than 150,000 people are expected in downtown Cincinnati this weekend to celebrate African-American culture and listen to music.

        Ujima Cinci-bration, an African-American cultural street festival, will again complement the 2000 Coors Light Festival at Cinergy Field, which features divas Erykah Badu, Patti LaBelle, and Chaka Khan.

Street closings
  • When: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Where: Cinergy Field.
  • Tickets: Friday and Saturday $50, $35 and $25; Sunday, $35 and $25. Available from Ticketmaster outlets (562-4949) and the Cinergy box office.
  • The schedule: (in order of appearance)
  Friday — Terry Dexter, the Midnight Star reunion, Eric Benet, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo.
  Saturday — Ohio Players reunion, Sisqo, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Patti LaBelle, the Temptations.
  Sunday — P. Ann Everson-Price & her All-Star Band, Boney James, the Whispers, Gerald Levert, Chaka Khan.
        Both kick off Friday.

        “It's a celebration of everything African-American,” said Lajuana Miller, events coordinator for Ujima Cinci-bration. “It's African-Ameri can food, artistry and entertainment.

        “But we are by no means limiting our audience.”

        Ujima is a Swahili term for collective work and responsibility. This year — the third for the festival — Ujima Cinci-bration 2000 is sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky African- American Chamber of Commerce.

        This street event was organized three years ago in response to a violent weekend. The Coors Light festival, a hugely popular attraction, had been drawing many people who did not have tickets to the concerts but were attracted downtown by the crowds and excitement.

        Politicians and leaders from local African-American organizations came up with the idea of Ujima to provide structure and control for the anticipated crowds.

        The music festival lineup each day represents the best possible entertainment, said Joe Santangelo, the event's organizer. “It's the best bang for your buck. It's an extraordinary lineup of talent that only happens once a year.”

        Locals as well as out-of-town visitors can participate in some new activities at the street festival this year. Along with sampling the usual barbecue ribs, collard greens and fried fish, visitors also can sign up for a bid whist card-game tournament and see comedian George Wallace perform free on Saturday.

        The first-place winner of the card tournament will receive $1,000.

        Fifty women will have the chance to compete in the “Ms. All That” pageant. This competition is all about style and celebrates the most unique festival attire.

        The winner will receive $500.

        “Ujima Cinci-bration will have something to satisfy all your senses,” Ms. Miller said.

        Organizers estimate the weekend of music and culture has a $15 million to $20 million eco nomic impact on the region, drawing thousands of visitors to the city.

        “This year, we are welcoming 110 booths, offering one-of-a-kind arts and crafts items, ethnic merchandise, foods and beverages,” said Kathye E. Lewis, chairwoman of the board of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce.

        “There's something for everyone.”


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