Fun, music, prayer highlight African-American Festival

DOVER — Although an expansive gray sky threatened Legislative Mall in downtown Dover early Saturday afternoon, they weren’t able to damper spirits at the African American Festival.
Attendees said they were drawn to the good food, music and community they’ve celebrated at the festival for 25 years.

“Considering the rain, I still think it’s a good turnout,” said Ophelia Wallace, who was representing the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
The event was also somber time.

When a ceremonial libation was poured at the beginning, a prayer was offered for the nine church members in Charleston, South Carolina, who died at the hands of a gunman, and for protection from enemies.

Reuben Salters, one of the founding organizers of the festival, said people look forward to coming out to “meet other people, see other people and enjoy the food, the atmosphere.”
The festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“It just took a lot of determination,” Mr. Salters said.

Around 1 p.m., the Wilmington Jazz Band, at the stage in front of Legislative Hall, was starting to play its first notes.

Kids played in the moon bounce and bystanders ate funnel cakes under umbrellas. Attendees browsed vendors beneath their tents.

A long line of people was waiting for fish from Bethel AME Church in Chestertown.

A handful of people had set up lawn chairs at the stage, but the gusts of wind and light rain had kept the crowds away. People typically pack the grounds.

Usually, Stanley Cooper said, he’s surrounded by family, friends and neighbors at the festival.

“But it’s all right,” Mr. Cooper said. “We’ll just sit here and relax.”

“If they don’t chase me out of here, I’ll be here,” said Frank Winson, who was sitting next to him.

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