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Festival celebrating African American Folklore returns to Jackson Ward

Festival celebrating African American Folklore returns to Jackson Ward
Posted at 7:28 PM, Aug 19, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- A favorite festival is returning to celebrate African American Folklore in Jackson Ward.

A mother and daughter team with the Elegba Folklore Society with the Juneteenth Freedom Celebration, Capital City Kwanzaa Festival and this weekend's 31st annual Down Home Family Reunion are the forces behind the popular event.

“It was 1990, 1991 when the festival started, it started as a program for a museum.”

From a program at a museum, a festival was born in Abner Clay Park and now they are “bringing it back home.”

“The very first festival was in this place, all those many years ago and I can just look over the park and remember seeing how happy people were that such an event was happening here,” Janine Bell with the Elegba Folklore Society said.

The festival would highlight African American Folklife in a neighborhood once called the "Black Wall Street" of America.

From the early days, Bell's daughter Imani was by her side.

“I think that I was born into, actually, I've always been a member of the team," Imani said.

Imani began her journey with the festival at the age of five, either by handing out flyers or performing on stage.

She now serves as the production assistant for the festival and is grateful for the opportunity to learn from her mother and looks for ways to support her mother.

The reunion is built around families and multi-generational families and encourages the community to bring members of their families to experience the culture, food, performances and other things offered at the festival.

This year's Down Home Family Reunion features cultural performances, interactive Folkloric Demonstrations, a children’s corner, food, a market, R&B, African Rhythms, a Steel Orchestra, Blues and DC GoGo music and the Waverly Crawley Community Row.

“So there's lots happening as we are naming these areas honoring our ancestors, they'll be here, we'll be here and we're opening roads to the future,” says Janine Bell.

The event will be held rain or shine on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. in Abner Clay park in Jackson Ward. For more information, click here.