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KUUMBA Festival starting June 28 features African American Culture

KNOXVILLE -- Knoxville's annual KUUMBA Festival kicks off at 12:00 noon on June 28 at the East Tennessee History Center. Over 200 entertainers will perform on two stages. There will also be demonstrations, more than 100 crafts' people, and lots of food vendors.

kuumba festival knoxville
KUUMBA Festival in Knoxville. Image by AAAA.

The festival will last through Sunday, July 1 and will be held at three different locations in Knoxville: East TN History Center on Gay Street, Downtown/Market Square, and Chilhowee Park.

The KUUMBA Festival is an event of African American Appalachian Arts, Inc. (AAAA).

AAAA Chair says, "This is going to be the best KUUMBA ever and a marvelous time that people will remember for years to come." The KUUMBA Festival is the largest African American Cultural Arts Festival in East Tennessee. "This is more than an event, it is a cultural celebration," says Avon Rollins, Director of the Beck Cultural Center.

The kick off on June 28 will include an opening luncheon at 12:00 noon featuring Ekpe Abioto, World Renowned Artist, Percussionist, Master Storyteller & Drummer; notable musical tribute at the late Alex Haley's funeral; Ekpe Abioto will share stories form the South and other stories from around the world. People will enjoy his exciting rhythms and his soulful and melodic presentation on Flute and other instruments from Africa and around the world. Musical guest Artist Kelle Jolly and The Soul Sax Trio will also be performing through out the luncheon. Artist exhibit by featured Artist Hawa Ware Johnson; owner of Palavah Hut in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hawa will be speaking about her experience as a refugee in the Liberian Civil War titled "Crossing the Cavalla". There will be poetry, drums, dance, and stilt on site.

On Friday, June 29 at Market Square the Youth Arts Extravaganza will take place between 10 AM - 3 PM. Also on Friday, the Kuumba International Film Festival will be on Market Square, Venue TBA; featuring filmmaker Armaa Johnson's directorial debut that focuses on the living conditions of Liberian immigrants living in Staten Island, New York and he intends to build a framework with the documentary genre that will bring to light the underrepresented and misrepresented people of the world.

Starting in Downtown Knoxville at 6 PM the JUNKANU (Parade) will begin on Gay Street and continue to Market Square. The parade will feature festival participants, the original Free Spirit Stilt Walkers, Kuumba Watoto Dance and Drum Company, churches, and community groups who strut, drum, and dance. Also on Market Square will be the African Market Place with traditional crafts, clothing, and foods. The festival continues with the "Taste of Africa & the World" Tasting and Competition (Presentation of People's Choice Award). Junkanu Parade culminates with a live concert: Featuring Jazz Artist Andre Delano, Singer and Saxophonist, Known for his collaborative works with Maxwell, Usher and Christina Aguilera.

On Saturday, June 30 at Chilhowee Park gates open at 11 AM until 10 PM featuring the African Market Place with traditional crafts, clothing, and foods; the World Children's Village; and two entertainment stages. From 9am - 1pm the First Kuumba Zumba Marathon will take place at Chilhowee Park. From 2pm - 6pm Knoxville's Greatest Talent, Talent competition. From 6:30pm - 7:30pm the original Free Spirit Stilt Walkers and Kuumba Watoto Dance and Drum Company. FEATURED ARTIST On Center stage at 8pm CASH MONEY RECORDS Presents JOSH GATES. Admissions: $5.00 before 5PM; $10.00 after 5PM. children 6yrs. & under FREE.

Ending on Sunday, gates open at 12 noon until 9 PM. The African Market place will present the Gospel with GOSPEL IN THE PARK from 3pm - 6 pm and the Knoxville Zoo display and showcase from 2pm – 4pm; (Children's World Village) from 3 PM - PM. Also featuring a Recording Artist TBA at 7pm. Admissions: $5.00; children 6yrs. & under FREE, and on Sunday children 6yrs., and under FREE.

Founded in 1989, African American Appalachian Arts, Inc. (AAAA) is a non profit 501(c) 3 arts organization that focuses on creating positive social and community developments by utilizing creative methods of education through cultural arts outreach programs such as Arts Reach, KWUYI, Haley Heritage Square, and the KUUMBA Festival.

For more information call: 865-951-2356 or visit

Published June 21, 2012

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