Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival canceled

SEAFORD — The head of the Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival this week formally confirmed its silver anniversary event is canceled, due to health concerns and economic climate impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It has been rescheduled for August 2021.

This marks the first cancellation in AFRAM’s 24-year history.

“I have never in the history of it, had to cancel it,” said AFRAM Executive Director Patricia “Pat” Jones. “So, it was heartbreaking to me and devastating to most festival-goers, but the call had to be made because of the state of our economy. And the AFRAM Festival is based solely on donations from businesses, and most businesses were in desperate times because of the COVID-19. It was disheartening to me.”

The family-friendly festival, which for more than two decades has showcased rich African American culture and heritage on a local and regional level, plans to make a glorious return Aug. 14, 2021, for its silver anniversary 25th celebration. It will be held at the Seaford Sports Complex near the Seaford Library and Cultural Center and Ross Mansion property.

“We are coming back, and we are going to have a grand celebration Aug. 14,” Ms. Jones said. “We ask people to save the date, and we will back with a bang!”

Ms. Jones had proposed canceling back in April. In a posting this week on the AFRAM website, Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival Inc. and the festival planning committee announced the event set for Aug. 8 in Seaford will not be held in consideration of COVID-19 pandemic health guidelines and directives.

“I saw that coming early on, and the time that I would have been soliciting donations was the time that this country shut down. It would not have made sense to go forward with this year’s event,” said Ms. Jones. “A lot of vendors are going to suffer, and I felt like a lot of people probably would have chosen not to come because of what our country has been going through. So, with all those things compiled upon the planning process, I had to make the call.”

“It breaks my heart because I have never in this history had to do something like this. And we have never in our history had to go through something like this, either,” she said.

The AFRAM Festival averages about $10,000 to $12,000 in staging the event, Ms. Jones said.

“I am just humble enough not to ask for someone that is in a situation that everybody else is in. You can’t expect them, people that have always given, businesses that have always contributed, to do it in a time like this,” she said. “The time is now because we need the money to plan for August. This was the crucial time for us to plan and prepare for our summer event. If we don’t have the money, we can’t do it. It can’t be done.”

Next year’s event is jump-started with a carryover donation from major sponsor M.E.R.I.T. (Minority Engineering Regional Incentive Training), a program based in Seaford dating to 1974.

For more information on AFRAM, visit https://www.easternshoreafram.org.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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