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African American Festival draws big names

6/13/2014, 6 a.m.
Mint Condition will perform at the African American Heritage Festival (Courtesy Photo)

Loyal audiences who make it a point to travel downtown for the annual African American Festival are in for a treat. This year’s festival, which runs on Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22 at the Camden Yards Sports & Entertainment Complex, will have plenty for adults and children alike and will feature some of the most exciting names in R&B music.

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Brandy

It will also feature several Hollywood stars and include appearances by former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, “Good Times” star Bern Nadette Stans, “Real House Wives” star Phaedra Parks and best-selling author Zane. Each will be on hand to talk about and sign copies of their new books.

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Mario

“It’s something for everyone,” said Shelonda Stokes, president and CEO of greiBO Entertainment, the event’s producer. “The festival has expanded to also

include a focus on health and wellness, financial literacy, and education in a number of areas including beauty, STEM, business and sports. Our tagline is a, ‘Celebration of life, Music, and Culture.’ This year’s theme is happy.”

The music lineup for the festival includes R&B Divas star Monifa, Chico DeBarge from the famous DeBarge family, Jacob Latimore and Mint Condition. Former “New Edition” singer Johnny Gill and Grammy-winning artist Brandy will also appear.

“We are truly making Baltimore a key destination for people on the East Coast. From our ethnic celebrations to our arts festivals and other tourist attractions, we’re giving people a reason to visit and move to Baltimore,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said in a news release.

The mayor recently joined Stokes and Black Enterprise CEO Butch Graves in announcing new sponsorship partners for the festival, including: Pepsi, Verizon, State Farm and Black Enterprise. Stokes says that Pepsi will hold a new product tasting at the festival and attendees will also be able to sample Doritos.

The festival, which attracts an estimated crowd of 350,000 annually, will be hosted by actors Chris Spencer and Elise Neal.

Barry, Parks, Zane and Stanis will be available in one of the various tents that will be set up for meet and greets and will afford individuals an opportunity to purchase their new books and have them signed.

“The festival will have an extensive selection of

entertainment, cultural exhibits, contests, health screenings, education and financial empowerment activities and there will be more than 150 vending booths and attractions and two stages for entertainment,” Stokes said.

Arts and crafts, inflatable obstacle courses and a rock-climbing wall are among the attractions for

children.

Rawlings-Blake said another feature will be the

return of the air-conditioned experiences like, “Health, Wellness, & Access,”

presented by Evergreen Health which

includes health screenings, fitness demonstrations, and nutrition seminars.

The Black Enterprise Empowerment Tent will feature wealth creation seminars and exhibits while STEM Nation presented by iSTEMS and EMC will feature interactive demonstrations and exhibits highlighting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

A “Beauty Bar” will provide women and men with beauty and grooming demonstrations, beauty product samples tips, and beauty techniques.

Organizers say they expect to add to the list of entertainers and events prior to the opening of the festival at noon on Saturday.

The newest edition to the festival will be Xtreme Procision, presented by Under Armour and NFL great, LaVar Arrington, CEO of XP, which is a flag football skills challenge.

“Everyone who comes out will have a great time,” Stokes said. “It’ll be memorable.”

Festival admission is free, but officials say it’s important to bring cash as outside food and beverages aren’t allowed and most vendors won’t accept credit or debit cards.

For more information about the African American Festival, visit: www.AfricanAmericanFestival.net.