African American Cultural Festival Draws Thousands to Downtown Raleigh

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Chidiogo Maxwell enjoyed the smell of the rain as she and other attendees huddled together under shelter. Children clung close to their parents’ sides waiting for the drizzle to stop. The aroma of barbecue and spices were still rich in the air while the jazzy notes of Al Strong’s trumpet came to an end as the streets cleared.

On Sep. 5, the 6th annual African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County was disrupted by the rain, but the excitement and joy continued to linger throughout the streets.

Maxwell moved to America from Enugu, Nigeria, six years ago with her family. She said the Raleigh event reminded her of her home city.

“We used to have the Nigerian trade fair which lasted for as long as a week and people would buy, sell, and just have a good time,” she said. “There were dances performed, artists, music, food, clothes, jewelry. You name it. The art present at the Raleigh festival was what really reminded me of home. They were all so colorfully vibrant and creative.”

“It’s like a little piece of home.” Nigerian native Chidiogo Maxwell said while attending the event with her family on Saturday.

Sophia Allison / Raleigh Public Record

“It’s like a little piece of home.” Nigerian native Chidiogo Maxwell said while attending the event with her family on Saturday.

Organizers were expecting 15,000 attendees but the on-again, off-again rain created a smaller crowd. The Labor Day weekend festival celebrated African American culture through music, community engagement, art and food. The event was free and open to the public.

Jewelry designer Zoe Lee said she continues to sell her work at the cultural festival because there is always something different to see and she appreciates people supporting small black-owned businesses.

Taylor Griffin, a student at one of U.S. News’s top-ranked HBCU’s, North Carolina A&T University, attended the festival with her boyfriend.

“I like the fact that there’s a lot of different cultures here,” she said. “I go every year and it’s the first time it’s rained.”

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