Black Heritage Festival continues to grow

By By Jordan Gribble / Special to the American Press

In a speech presenting scholarships to

local high school students during the 26th annual Black Heritage

Festival, an event

representative said the festival stood as a way for people in the

African-American community to remember who they are, where

they came from and where they are going.

This year’s festival was selected as one of Southeast Tourism’s top 20 events of the year. It began Friday at the Lake Charles

Civic Center and ends today.

Judith Washington, executive director of the Black Heritage Festival, said that in its early days the event was held in the

exhibition hall of the Civic Center, but that due to overwhelming response in recent years it has grown to include events

held in the entirety of the Civic Center and stretch itself over three days.

“The turnout has just been excellent in the last few years, so this year we decided to incorporate the rest of the Civic Center

to accommodate the wealth of entertainment the festival provides,” she said.

“We decided to kick it up a notch and have different things happening in all of the different rooms, including a Kids Zone,

a Gospel Explosion, a zydeco room, a blues and jazz room and even a food court in the mezzanine to give people a place to

eat the festival’s delicious food, talk and exchange ideas.”

The festival’s events began Friday with

a performance by comedian and magician Dewayne Hill and continued

Saturday with performances

by Keith Frank, Leon Chavis and Mickey Huber Smith, a zydeco

aerobics lesson, teen summit, diaper derby, and seminars on parenting

and economic empowerment. It concludes today with a performance by

Frankie Beverly and Maze.

All of the proceeds from the festival benefit the organization’s scholarship fund, which gives 11 scholarships totaling $5,500

to local high school students annually.

Washington said the festival is a great way for all members of the community to come together and appreciate African-American

culture.

“This festival is not just for the African-American community but for all people in Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas,”

she said.

“It’s a good way for our people to come together in a positive atmosphere and promote the arts and culture of our area so

that our children will grow up knowing about it.”