Through Jan. 29 – Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities
Whoever says Florida doesn’t have deep historic or cultural roots apparently hasn’t visited Eatonville. In addition to being the oldest African-American municipality in the nation – it was incorporated as an all black community in the 1880s, not long after the Emancipation Proclamation was decreed – it was the home of one of the pre-eminent figures in the African-American literary world, Zora Neale Hurston. Eatonville has capitalized on both of those claims to fame with its annual (and super popular) Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, a weeklong celebration of art, literature and African-American music and culture. This year’s festival kicks off on Saturday with an afternoon roundtable discussion of Eatonville’s history, and throughout the week there will be tours of the yards and gardens of Eatonville, mobile tours of historically significant landmarks and sites in and around Eatonville, and staged productions of theater works inspired by Hurston’s life. On Friday, Jan. 27, an outdoor festival of the arts takes over the town’s main drag and continues throughout the weekend. Main-stage entertainment will include local hip-hop and musical acts on Friday night, followed by R&B singer Mario; Keith Sweat takes over the main stage on Saturday night; and Sunday, fittingly, will feature a Gospel Explosion starring some of the best and brightest gospel performers in the area. Of course, there’s plenty more – food and visual arts and educational opportunities – but it’s too much to list in this one little write-up, so visit the website for complete details. Zora would be proud of what she’s inspired in this little Central Florida town. – Erin Sullivan
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