Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival enjoys good weather, crowds

By Lynn R. Parks

At one point on Saturday, at the height of the Eastern Shore African-American Festival in Seaford, Herb Quick took a fast count of the people crowded around the stage.

"I counted about 400 people," he said. At another point, he counted about 300 people listening to the music.

"I think that this is the best [AFRAM] yet," said Quick, who with his wife, Jocelyn, does publicity for the festival. "We have top-notch singers and we couldn't ask for a better day weather-wise. Everybody is enjoying themselves and the vendors are doing well."

This was the 13th year for AFRAM, which was held Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday in Nutter Park. The focus of the festival is on the African-American community, its culture and traditions. This year's festival theme was "Umoja," or unity.

AFRAM began as a basketball tournament sponsored by local parents to give their children something to do during the summer and to teach good sportsmanship. That tournament, now in its 13th year and the core of the festival, Quick said, started out this year's festival on Thursday evening.

Following tradition, this year's festival included a Saturday-morning parade. Grand marshal was Gladys Briggs, a resident of Seaford and a former member of the Seaford School Board. Briggs was honored on Saturday during opening ceremonies with the festival's annual community recognition award.

Community groups from throughout the area set up booths to hand out information about their activities.

Local employers passed out information about available jobs and several organizations participated in a health fair.

On Saturday afternoon, Ronnie Leifart, Seaford, and his step-daughter Asia Harris, 7, were among those who were enjoying the festival's gospel hour. Leifart had already been at the festival for several hours and planned to stay until the end of the closing act at around 8 o'clock.

"I have really enjoyed the music," he said. As for refreshments, he had had some oxtail cooked with herbs and spices, he said. Asia was polishing off a large bag of pink cotton candy.

Chucky Victor from Snow Hill, Md., rode his motorcycle to the festival to catch the acts and get some food. He opted for curried goat meat with rice and beans.

Vendors were also selling crab cakes, oyster sandwiches, fried fish and fried chicken. At their food booth, Maisah Beyah from York, N.J., and her son, Shawn Mosey, specialize in deep-fat-fried Oreos, Mosey said. And the cookies, dipped in batter and then fried for a few seconds, were selling well, he added.

"Business is pretty good," he said. "This is our first time here, and we'll probably come back." Kevin Smith, an artist from Salisbury, Md., was selling his paintings and sketches from under a tent. Business wasn't real brisk, he said, but he was enjoying talking with people who were strolling by. "I'm having a beautiful day," he said.

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