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African Heritage Festival Turns 25

The annual African Heritage Cultural Festival will be celebrated Saturday, July 26 from 1-7 p.m. at Market Square on King Street. This special event would not be able to go on if it wasn’t for Maureen Sturgill, who is the Recreation Supervisor of Special Events for the Alexandria Department of Recreation. She played a vital role in planning and scheduling all of the events for this year’s African Heritage Cultural Festival. Sturgill was able to talk about her role in this year’s festival.

<b>Why was the theme "Reaching Back, Moving Forward" chosen for this year’s festival?</b>

It combines both history and the future of the African Heritage and the Festival itself. For instance, there will be music from Africa and the United States with traditional African dances as well as jazz music.

<b>How long has the African Heritage and Cultural festival been going on?</b>

This is the 25th year.

<b>What's new and different this year?</b>

There will be a Grand Processional with pouring of Libation to begin the Festival, led by African drummers and dancers (Belafon African Dance Ensemble), along with a Kora player (Cheik Hamla Diabete); an Alexandria African Heritage Tour; a film festival; and both a youth stage and Main stage, filled with many talented performers, some from the city itself. We will also feature as Emcee, Glenn Harris of News Channel 8.

<b>Why do you think people should come out to the festival?</b>

It will be exciting, educational and fun with good food wonderful music, colorful costumes, displays, and children's activities.

<b>What is going to be on display?</b>

Jewelry, clothing, health information, voter registration, pictures, musical instruments, various films and tours of buildings and areas of the City of the African Heritage and culture.

<b>What performances are you excited about?</b>

Really, all of them. The jazz groups--MSP-The Mike Stephens Project and the group PHAZE II; the band, Elikeh, with Afro pop music; the various children's groups; SAM'O and the band JFC, with Caribbean music; and the procession itself, kicking off the Festival.

<b>What is the toughest part of your job as the Event Supervisor?</b>

Working on all the current events and activities for that day, week or month, at the same time you are working on the next month or even the next year, all at the same time. It is a constant planning and implementation process.

<b>What is one of your favorite hobbies to do in your spare time?</b>

I have many, but at this time I'd say soccer.