The 31st annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of Arts and Humanities takes place in Historic Eatonville, Florida, and in the surrounding Orange County, Florida, from January 25 through February 2, 2020. This year’s celebration combines music, literature, fashion, science and technology, economic development and the arts of the African Diaspora in a nine-day explosion of culture. There is so much to see and do. Here is a quick overview of some of the events over the 9-day Festival.
The festival is named for Zora Neale Hurston, the African American author, anthropologist and film-maker who rose to prominence during The Harlem Renaissance. She spent her formative years in Eatonville, which later served as inspiration for her work, the most famous of which was “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.
While the Festival celebrates Zora Neale Hurston, the festival’s organizer, the Association for the Preservation of the Eatonville Community (P.E.C.), deliberately looks to the past and to the future much like the Sankofa bird, when developing the schedule of events for the nine-day period.
The Outdoor Festival of the Arts January 31st through February 2nd is a fan favorite, drawing thousands of visitors to the town because of the many things to do over the last weekend of the ZORA!TM Festival.
The action starts during Education Day on Friday. Education Day is the ZORA!TM Festival’s investment in the future – our children. But on Friday night, Jero Green hosts Line Dancing in the Zora Neale Hurston Square (adjacent to the Eatonville Public Library). Saturday’s Center Stage Performances include Old School R&B artists Public Announcement; Michel’le and Howard Hewitt. Sunday’s Gospel Hour and Southern Soul Concert features Alonzo and Charlyce Simons, Kemuel “KT” Jones, 1Voice featuring John Polk and many more Gospel artists.
All weekend, the African Trade Expo, the ZORA!TM STEM Activity Hub and the Afrofuturism Pavilion, modern twists on merchandising and edutainment, will entertain Festival attendees. Count on visiting your favorite food vendor at the International Food Court and finding art that celebrates the African Diaspora while at the Outdoor Festival of the Arts. Get your tickets in advance to scoop up a discount on admission.
If the literary arts are more your speed, then there are several chances to satisfy that longing. This year’s Festival explores Afro-Futurism in literature. The Afro-Futurism conference is a 2-day lecture series by scholars from esteemed universities and colleges across the US. This seminar series takes place at the new Downtown UCF campus, with a special visit to Eatonville for a once in a lifetime chance to hear Literary Elder Ishmael Reed, poet, playwright, novelist, essayist and songwriter. Be sure to get your tickets for the conference in advance.
If you love cosplay, dramatic fashion, comic book heroes or an all-out good time, you won’t want to miss Beyond Black Panther: Up Close and Personal Masquerade Party. This event includes dinner and conversation on February 1 at the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater in the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Come out in your finest African-inspired Sci-Fi costumes. Turn to Parliament Funkadelic; Earth, Wind and Fire and of course, Black Panther for your costume inspiration. Click here for your tickets.
2019 marked 400 years since the first documented ship anchored the shores of America with Africans who were held in captivity. Many African Americans chose to commemorate the solemn anniversary with a movement to reconnect with Africa through the “DOOR of Our Return Initiative”, which includes the recognition that the African Diaspora is an economic community. In tribute to Zora Neale Hurston’s tenacity and perseverance in a time when women had little voice, P.E.C. the organizer of the ZORA!TM Festival in conjunction with the World Conference of Mayors (a Festival Community Partner), hosts the Inaugural Africa-America Women’s Economic Forum at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
This is a quick sample of events taking place over the entire Festival. See something you like? Check the website for more details or visit us on Facebook or Twitter to learn more. Haven’t seen something that piques your interest yet? Visit our website and peruse the schedule. There is likely to be something of interest to you. Whatever you do, stop by and check our blog for our latest post about the ZORA!TM Festival 2020.