African American Festival Saturday in Dover

Event co-founder Reuben Salters leads the procession at last year’s “Positively Dover” African American Festival on Legislative Mall. This year’s festival is Saturday starting at 10 a.m. (Delaware State News file photo/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Reuben Salters had no idea that the “Positively Dover” African American Festival would become an annual event that people would look forward to every year.

“I never imagined that it would be around this long,” Mr. Salters said. “People really look forward to the event each year.”

Organized and sponsored by the Dover-based Inner City Cultural League and founded in 1991 by Mr. Salters, a former Dover City Councilman, and former state Rep. Donald Blakey, the festival will celebrate its 28th year on Saturday.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Legislative Mall. It is dedicated to the ancestors of Delaware African-Americans.

“People loved it when we first did it,” Mr. Salters said. “It started to get bigger and bigger each year, so we decided to keep it going. It’s always a great event. Everyone comes out and has a good time. It’s a great way to share our heritage and culture with one another and to educate the youth about where they came from.”

The festival offers the opportunity for visitors to explore the African and African-American culture through vendor exhibits and entertainment in an atmosphere reflecting modern-day African outdoors marketplaces.

It is a daylong celebration of African culture that includes food, crafts, dancing, drumming and music.

Some of the scheduled performers include: the Sankofa African Dance Co. and Drummers, the band Fazes and Dover indie blues band Hoochi Coochi.

“It’s been pretty hard getting national bands or performers,” Mr. Salters said. “We had problems in the past where some of the big-named performers we had before either showed up late or didn’t show up until the last minute.

“We wanted to go in a new direction this year by letting some of the local artists perform. I think it will still be a great because most of these bands everyone in the community seems to be familiar with. So it should still be a great time for everyone.”

The festival will also feature around 100 vendors, many of whom will be selling African-oriented products, clothes and art. Others will provide information regarding their businesses, including talking about health issues, offering massages and many other things.

Plus, there will be around 30 food vendors on hand, featuring a diverse food menu, as well as a moon bounce, face painting and crafts for the children.

“Everyone loves the food that’s out there because there are so many choices you can choose from. There’s a lot of diversity. People can choose Caribbean, African and Italian. There is so much out there and then people come there for the fried fish and chicken. We’re just looking forward to everyone coming out and having a good time as always,” Mr. Salters said.

The festival is not strictly reserved for African Americans.

“It’s for everyone,” Mr. Salters said. “We want everyone to come out. It’s a great community event and a great time for kids and adults as well. We can’t wait.”

Arshon Howard is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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