Back in 2008, the country was dealt a series of circumstances that left the economic forecast in question. Many businesses closed, thousands of people began to lose jobs and homes. Here in Milwaukee, our community was dealt a blow with the cancellation of a long rich traditional event that is affectionately called “The Meeting Place”, officially known as African World Festival.
After a two-year hiatus and restructuring, the Board of Directors worked with area residents, local business partners and festival volunteers to bring the sorely missed festival back, and in August of 2010 the festival return with a one day event, a downsize from its original 3 days.
Two years of fundraising, re-grouping, conducting community outreach activities and a strategic plan worked, and again the festival returned in 2011.
This weekend, the festival returns for a full one day run on Saturday, Aug. 3. In 2010 when the festival first returned Congresswoman Gwen Moore compared it to the resurgence of Africa, “Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.”
African World Festival is a celebration of African heritage and culture held on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, WI. Since its inception in 1982, the festival’s mission has been to promote and share the culture and heritage of all people of African descent with the global community.
Known as “The Meeting Place” African World Festival is not only an entertaining event but an educational experience. Come and explore the cultural village, sample a variety of ethnic foods, shop around the Marketplace, let the kids play in the Children’s Village and enjoy lots of great entertainment.
When the festival was interrupted in 2008, many naysayers criticized the festival, and the African American community and issued a challenge stating that if Black people in Milwaukee wanted a festival that they needed to find their own way to finance it. Well guess what, they did. In spite of the loss of major sponsor money even from 2011 to 2012 the festival was able to find its way back. After paying back hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, the festival made it back. They have again scaled back to a one day event, yet it will be filled with first class entertainment.
Featuring jazz, blues, gospel and R & B geared toward an mature audience for music. Ticket sales are pouring in from out of state according to Festival executive director C. Michelle Bryant.
This year’s line up includes several jazz greats such as; Ronnie Laws, Brian Culbertson, Kevin Hayden Trio, Larry Moore, and more. Grammy award winning India Arie will join the line up for the first time as well.
The stages that will be performed at include the Miller Lite Oasis, where Arie and the jazz artists will perform on. The other stages where performances will take place will be the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, where gospel acts will perform. And the Harley Davidson Roadhouse stage will feature a few headliners such as; Shirley Brown, Sir Charles Jones, and Love, Peace & Soul.
The festival will run from noon until midnight on Saturday, Aug. 3. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 2:20-2:50 pm at the Miller Lite Oasis stage. Advanced tickets are available from now through Aug. 1, and the cost is $12.00 for adults and kids under 6 are free. Tickets after Aug. 1 and at the gate will be $17.00 for adults and again kids under 6 are free.
Ticket outlets include various African American owned businesses such as: Lena’s Food Stores, Gee’s Clippers, Columbia Savings & Loan, Carter Drug Store, North Milwaukee State Bank, Torrences House of Threads, First Impressions Barber Shop and of course the African World Festival office at Grand Avenue Mall. For a complete listing visit the African World Festival website at: www.awfmke.com.