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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

25th Annual Umoja Festival Brings African Culture to Portsmouth, Virginia

— Award-winning national artists Peabo Bryson, Jazmine Sullivan, and Vickie Winans to perform —

Umoja Festival in Portsmouth, Virginia

Portsmouth, VA — The City of Portsmouth is proud to host the 25th Annual Umoja Festival at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion and Festival Park May 22-24. The free festival will kick off Friday evening with a drum call and a ceremonial procession. Afterwards, as dictated by African tradition, the event will be blessed by elder members of the Portsmouth community. Starting at 6:15pm on Friday evening music will fill the night air, including a tribute to legendary Motown artists Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.

The free live music will continue on Saturday starting at Noon. Visitors will also be able to step back in history by taking a tour of the Portsmouth Community Colored Library Museum, located off site. The children’s corner will come alive from Noon to 5 pm with activities for even the youngest family members, including face painting, bounce houses, games, arts and crafts, and a climbing wall.

On Saturday night award-winning national R&B artists Peabo Bryson and Jazmine Sullivan will take the stage. They will be joined by Portsmouth’s own, CaReam, at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion. (While the rest of the weekend’s events are free, the concert on Saturday night is not and requires ticket purchase.)

The excitement peaks when the festival swings into its third and final day. Spirits will soar on “Unity Sunday” as the Piney Grove Baptist Church Choir and the award winning Earl Bynum and the Mount Unity Choir raises hands and voices to the Lord. Children’s activities will resume in the afternoon and visitors will once again be able to take a tour of the past, this time at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church Underground Railroad, located off site. In the evening Portsmouth’s own Peggy Britt and Company will take the stage, followed by national gospel artist and Grammy Award-winning singer Vickie Winans, who will close out three days of African culture, cuisine, music and unity.

For the duration of the festival, the event grounds will be decorated to look like Portsmouth’s sister city of Eldoret, Kenya. Visitors will be immersed in the sights and sounds of Africa as they stroll through the marketplace offering an array of traditional African wares including sculptures, paintings, prints, baskets, jewelry and other handcrafted items. Food vendors will also be on site to offer mouthwatering selections for purchase.

The annual Umoja Festival, put on by the City of Portsmouth, brings the African experience to its citizens. Umoja is a Kiswahili word that means “unity” and is the first principle of the African American holiday of Kwanzaa. For more information about the festival, including how to purchase tickets for Saturday night’s concert, visit www.UmojaFestPortsmouth.com.


About the City of Portsmouth, Virginia
The City of Portsmouth, Virginia is the geographical center of Hampton Roads located in the southeastern corner of Virginia. Over 250 years old, the city is a true historical gem with stories and architecture dating back to the American Revolution and earlier. For more information, call 757-393-8000 or visit www.PortsmouthVa.gov.


Margaret Thorne, City of Portsmouth
(757) 393-5143