Wichita Black Arts Festival Back to Full Schedule After Last Year's Cancellations

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

The sights and sounds are familiar to Edith Alexander and her family, but each year the Wichita Black Arts Festival parade brings new excitement.

"This is an annual event for us," Alexander said. "We have our normal spot where we sit each year."

Alexander has never missed one. But this year's parade has special meaning to her. That's because there wasn't one a year ago.

"It's just exciting to have it back again," Alexander said. "I love a parade."

Cuts to state funding and reduced donations because of the recession forced organizers to cancel the majority of the festival, including the parade, last year.

"The festival starts out with a $14,000 price tag and that's just to put it on," Festival President Dana McPherson said. "That doesn't even include the entertainment."

Falling short in 2011 was a disappointment. The non-profit, all-volunteer festival in McAdams Park celebrating arts and culture has been around for 44 years.

But organizers say in 2012, they and the community have responded to make sure the money is there this time around.

"A lot of things were donated this year that would normally have cost us," McPherson said.

He says the donations show people are willing to do what it takes to preserve something they say is vital to the community.

"When people come together in the arts, whether it's visual or performing, people tend to relate to one another and a lot of troubles seem to subside," Festival Vice President Dr. Charles Coleman said.

He says the festival helps bring the community closer together.

"I look forward to meeting people and the entertainment," Kathryn Pace said. "I especially love the music," friend Charline Milner added.

"It's like a reunion, of people you went to school with, elementary, junior high, high school, church," Clarice Peters said.

With all those people back in the park and lining the parade route, those such as Edith Alexander have been reunited with this celebration of the community's identity.

"It's so wonderful to see it back," Alexander said.

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