West Michigan Royal Roots Entertainment took over Sigsbee Park for their first ever Afro-Fest celebration. The event was filled with entertainment, live concerts, local vendors and face painting for the kids. Afro-Fest was inspired by the spirit with the famous holiday Juneteenth, and was a collective celebration of the African American culture and community in Grand Rapids.
Marlowe was one of the many local vendors who attended the event, and she even brought her business all the way from Lansing to Grand Rapids to share “Marlowe’s Jewelers” with the community.
“I thought coming out here (I knew) they were trying to support black owned businesses,” she said. “And you know I’m new at this – so I thought why not come out and support and get my foot out there. It’s been an awesome event so far. Hopefully, they continue doing it.”
Marlowe brought over an assortment of colorful jewelry, bracelets and wristbands to sell to the community at the event. Other vendors included local artists, Celebration Cinema, Red Project, Daddy Dough Cookies and many more who attended the event to share their products with the community.
The event featured a wide assortment of talented performers ranging from West Michigan artists to the featured headliner performances by Jpoww and U.N.V. who flew into Grand Rapids for the event.
West Michigan’s Jewels of Africa were a popular group who leaped off the stage to perform authentic African dance while singing “Jambo Means Hello.” This energetic song referred to the common greeting in Swahili “jambo” which translates into “hello.” A fun way of delivering a nugget of information to the crowds who attended.
Talitha Cumi, one of the singers who performed for the event, commented on what grabbed her interest.
“It had a little bit to Juneteenth,” she said. “You know – I’m black, so it had a lot to do with my roots, and the freedom of us. So as soon as I knew that was gonna be apart of it, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Afro-Fest ran from noon to 5 p.m. in Sigsbee Park. If you missed out on the event, take a look at our pictures of the festivities below.