19th AFRAM Festival features celebration of heritage, music

By Rebecca J. Davis

A large group of attendees had a great time at this year's AFRAM (African American) festival where they embraced their African American heritage and enjoyed food, vendors and entertainment.

The opening ceremony was held on the main stage, which was designed and decorated by AFRAM committee member Errol Sobers. Sobers based his design off a woman's long flowing hair and used brightly colored fabric on a black background to convey his vision.

This year's AFRAM festival began with the enthusiastic opening ceremony led by Pat Jones, executive director of the Eastern Shore AFRAM committee. "I think that each one of you is here at the right time," Jones said to the large crowd of AFRAM attendees and vendors. "This is the 19th edition of the AFRAM festival and it is an opportunity to embrace the African American culture. Our assignment is to plant the seeds for the future and the festival brings cultures together as a melting pot. We showcase talent and information and it is an honor to share this vision. Everyone benefits from AFRAM."

Jones also recognized the sponsors of the event. "Without them we couldn't be here today," she stated. "We greatly appreciate the outstanding support of our sponsors. These extraordinary events are possible each year because of [their] unwavering commitment to sharing cultural enrichment, education and community spirit."

A prayer was given for the festival's glory and success. Jones then stated that the chosen community power that fosters good seeds for this year is the Seaford Historical Society. The Historical Society was selected due to its efforts to have an historical sign erected at Seaford's Gateway Park and Riverwalk to mark where the Underground Railroad was represented.

The Seaford Historical Society has an ongoing partnership with Eastern Shore AFRAM, working to revitalize exhibits to reflect the many sides of local history and the contributions of individuals and groups in the Seaford area.

Local historian and Seaford Historical Society member, Jim Blackwell, researched Harriet Tubman's leading of an escaped slave, known as Tilly, through Seaford. It is the only known Harriet Tubman escape through the headwaters of the Nanticoke.

Blackwell submitted his findings to the National Park Service and the State of Delaware. Seaford is now included in the National Underground Railroad Byway and the state erected a marker at Gateway Park, Seaford.

At the end of the opening ceremonies, the AFRAM Mix and Match Team and Team Macedonia played the AFRAM Family Feud. After a series of five questions, Team Macedonia won the chance to play fast money in which they earned 219 points. The church was awarded a love offering of $50. The host for the AFRAM Family Feud was AFRAM committee member Chandra Phillips.

Attendees thoroughly enjoyed the opening ceremonies and the festival, which consisted of vendors, a children's entertainment area with face painting and bouncy houses, food and musical entertainment.

"I like the festival, it's a great way for the community to get out and celebrate African American Heritage," Vendor Cherie Harris said.

Attendee Donald Griffin hopes that "they continue the festival for years to come, it brings people together."

The 20th AFRAM Festival will be held next year. For more information about the festival, visit the website easternshoreafram.org or call 628-1908.

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