Swan-song celebration for largest holiday fest in Brooklyn

Vinette K. Pryce (left) at the funeral of her mother, Vena W. Baker which took place on Tuesday, June 25, 2024.
Photo courtesy Vinette K. Pryce

Commodore Barry Park will host its final annual celebration of the International African Arts Festival from July 4 to July 7.
The City Park cultural event marks the 53rd year vendors, artisans, and artists assemble inside the landmark location at Navy St. and Flushing Ave. for alternative holiday fete of America’s independence. It will be the last time crowds will gather there to revel in all things diasporan.

According to sources, a new location site will replace the often described ‘ideal setting,’ which hosted the former African Street Festival which emerged from the Uhuru Sasa Shule fundraiser that spawned the holiday weekend event.
Borne from a concept nurtured by the late educator and community activist Jitu Weusi and others, African fashion and ensemble encouraged patrons to exhibit pride in Heritage and culture.

After moving to Brooklyn’s Boys and Girls High School four years later, it seemed vendors and attendees took a next level approach to dressing, shopping, selling, performing and celebrating the predominantly African exhibition.
Ultimately, the free alternative presentation attracted tourists and borough residents who bragged the unique aspect of the pride parade. Foods from the Caribbean proved enticing, fashion — alluring, performances — outstanding and reuniting with friends the main attraction.
By 2001, massive attendance forced a larger space.

Wuyl Jacobs, host of WBAI-FM’s ‘Afro Beat’ said the festival continues to expand and will go on but again another location will have to be found.
Jacobs did not elaborate on the genesis of the decision to relocate but explained that he will broadcast his one-hour, world beat program throughout the three days.

The IAAF is the largest and longest running festival in the US dedicated to Pan-African culture.
African drumming often highlight the festivities however ambling throughout the grounds has always provided eye-candy to multitudes who offer a donation to access the space.

By the way, politicians have always made a primary stop to meet and greet their constituents. This year with early elections there might be an absence of campaigning contenders from election districts.
It should be noted that Job and Muslimah Mashariki will be the grand Marshall’s for the Saturday parade.
Check the iaafestival.org web portal for details.

Kudos to Life

Big thanks to editors and staffers of Caribbean Life for obliging my honorarium to my mother Vena W. Baker who transitioned on May 24 and celebrated her home going last Tuesday. It is with deep gratitude that I acknowledge your generosity and will forever be grateful for the kindness shown.

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