Sunday, January 18, 2004

Festival celebrates African culture



By Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Binta Berry dances with the Cincinnati-based Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Theatre group at the African Culture Fest in the Cincinnati Museum Center.
(Meggan Booker photo)
Each year, Toresa Jenkins looks forward to the African Culture Fest, one of the best events in Cincinnati to celebrate the vast diversity of African heritage.

As she walked through the African marketplace set up inside the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal Saturday, Jenkins, an elementary school teacher in Avondale, shopped for African jewelry and clothes.

"I take them back and wear them for my students," said Jenkins, 41, who is African-American. "It helps them see that we can be proud of who we are."

The 19th annual African Culture Fest runs through Monday. Coinciding with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, the festival's highlights include an array of African artwork, clothing, music and food.

IF YOU GO
What: 19th annual African Culture Fest
Where: Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, 1301 Western Ave.
When: Three-day event coincides with Martin Luther King Day weekend.
Admission: Free
Phone: 513-287-7000
Because the event is free, no ticket numbers are used to help count attendance. But the African Culture Fest is always a big draw, said Michelle Padilla, marketing communications manager at the museum center.

African Culture Fest is the second celebration in the center's 2003-04 "Passport to the World" series. Latin American culture was celebrated in November. In February, the center will host Appalachian fest, to be followed later this year by a Celtic festival and an Asian festival.

Gaile McLemore, owner of Cachet-g, an African jewelry and clothing store in downtown Dayton, Ohio, said she's eager to bring her merchandise to the African Culture Fest each year because the sales are good.

"It's a first-class show. Plus, the festival is indoors, so you never have to worry about bad weather keeping people away," said McLemore, who imports her items from various African countries along the Ivory Coast.

E-mail mleingang@enquirer.com




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