TIFTON -- Organizers of the 20th annual Arts in Black Festival encourage all members of the community to attend, saying this year will be the best ever.

The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Fulwood Park.

"We want to encourage all members of the community to come out and enjoy it," said Leila Dollison. Leila and her husband Ricky are co-chairs of this year's festival.

A Talent Show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, April 1, in the Tift Theatre. Victor Love, an actor who has appeared on television's "West Wing," "Native Son" and "Spun," will be the master of ceremonies. He is the son of Arts in Black board member Clara Love Gray. For more information on the talent show, contact Clara Gray at 391-9955.

A parade begins at 9 a.m. April 2 at Cato Knight Parking Lot and ends at Fulwood Park. There is no entry fee, and a $100 award will be given to the best-transported group. Contact Lorenzo Williams or Dolanda Artis at 386-4360 for applications.

The annual festival was the brainchild of Dr. and Mrs. Homer Day of Tifton and is affiliated with the ABAC Arts Connection and the Tifton-Tift County Tourism Association.

A diverse group of performers representing many aspects of the rich cultural heritage of African-Americans will perform on April 2.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Garifuna Association of Atlanta will perform. The Garifuna are descendants of people originally brought to the Caribbean from Africa who refused to give up their cultural identity. The group performs exhibitions of traditional drumming and dances and dress in colorful Belizean attire. Their performance tells the tale of the journey their ancestors made from Africa to the Caribbean.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Albany State University Gospel Choir will perform. From noon to 4 p.m., the Southern Arts Musical Ensemble, a jazz group from Moultrie, will perform.

The African Alliance, a group of African students from Valdosta State University, will perform at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. The members of the group are from Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, Gambia and Tanzania. Members perform lively dances and present a fashion show of traditional clothing from the various African countries they represent.

The group's organizer, Kenyan Levy Odera, sings in plaintive Swahili and performs dances clad in paint, bamboo and feathers. The members encourage audience participation.

A highlight of the festival this year is the art exhibit "Mate Masie, What I Hear I Keep." The exhibit is on loan from the Tubman African American Museum in Macon and will be displayed in the Tifton-Tift County Public Library from Monday, March 28, through Sunday, April 10. There is no charge for admission.

The display is dedicated to the idea of gaining wisdom, understanding and prudence through remembrance of ancestors. The painted portraits of African Americans in oil and acrylic by local artist Wilfred Stroud are of those people who have made important contributions to this region. Also exhibited alongside Stroud's portraits are black-and-white images of African-Americans whose accomplishments in a variety of fields have had a lasting positive impact on the United States.

A children's area will feature face-painting, TaeKwonDo and gymnastics demonstrations, a Moon Walk, and Frisbee and other equipment giveaways and activities.

To contact city editor Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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