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The African Festival Of The Arts (African Fest) is a four-day festival on Chicago’s southside in Washington Park during Labor Day weekend. The ticket prices were $15 for adults (pre-sale) $20 at the gate, $10 for seniors and $5 for children. You could also purchase family, weekend VIP pavilion passes or group tickets. I could not commit to going to the festival all fours days, so I used the entertainment lineup as my determining factor for the date I would attend.

I am an outdoor person, so I love festivals. I learned many years ago that you must have on proper attire or you will be miserable. I opted for some jeans shorts and a sheer top to stay cool. My Nike wedges because they are comfortable for walking and standing. My last detail was a small crossbody to store my belonging and keep my hands free. I saw a lot of people with backpacks as well. Everyone looked comfortable and like they were ready to have a great time.

In addition to good entertainment, the African Festival provided excellent food, shopping, and cultural experiences, so there was a lot to do. I love food so the first thing I did was hit the food stations. As I was walked and ate I checked out some of the African Art exhibits and small performances. I shopped at some of the vendor tables and finally made my way stage area.

I scouted out an area for me and my friends. Scouting is important because you want to be close to the stage and the seating is fair game. By the time I made it, several people had already claimed their spot in the grass but we still had a good view. My friends brought chairs (hallelujah) so we were able to set up us a spot in the grass near the stage. Once we settled in, we took turns walking to get food, shopping and enjoy the rest of the festival until show time. Of course, I was near the stage when the performance started. I had to run all the way back to the stage area. I was so relieved and glad I wore comfortable sneakers instead of sandals.

This concert was so lit for a $20 holla (My nieces are probably rolling their eyes at me for saying that). Finally, being short had its advantages. I was able to get to the front of the stage because people could see over my head. First in the lineup was Twista who is a Chi-Town artist. He reminded me of why I feel love with hip-hop. B-Hype, his hype man, kept us on our feet. We rocked out to So sexy, Overnight Celebrity, Girl Tonight, Is That Your Chick, Slow Jamz, Let’s Go, and couple more tunes. Twista had me on my feet bouncing, rocking and flowing with him like I was his audience hype man. I was very surprised he opened the show because he was a tough act to follow.

Next to the stage was Shawnna, she came out and kept the crowd hype with her classic song Move. She gave us some more of her well-known hits songs like Fantasy, Getting Some, Shake that Sh*t. She kept the crowd on their feet with her energy and reminded us of who she is. She even got a little grimy with it as Cold Heart of Crucial Conflict joined her on stage for a song which left us ready for more.

Next up was an up and coming artist by the name of Peter Jericho from Cameroon. Everyone knows I’m a live band junkie. So of course, he was one of my favorites because he sang with a live band. He kicked his set off with Murder She Wrote, he also put a funky twist on, Take You Home Tonight, an old Nikia Burton classic. His original songs were good as well. I really liked Real One and Today’s My Lucky Day. His voice was very smooth and sultry and the band was excellent. He added a touch of his culture by dressing in African print and having his dancer and hype man (I think) Victor showed us how to African Dance. He changed the tempo up a little bit and prepared the crowd the for the headliner Keysha Cole.

Keysha looked amazing in black and white. Keysha was not playing with her band and winged most of the sound. The band sounded good to me, but it seemed like they needed a few more practices to perfect the performance. Oh well, sh*t happens and the show must go on. Keysha kicked off her set with her classic hit Love. She also sang, my Keysha Cole favorite, Changed My Mind. I got my karokee background singer from the audience superstar on and was moving and grooving. I stayed for a few more songs and began to head to the exit. I don’t like being in the midst of a large crowd heading out, so I always tend to leave in the middle of the final act.☹

In addition to the performances, there was a fashion show, dancers, music by DJ Jukemadethistrack, DJ Nephets and DJ Bonsu.  The hosts were Sheila O and Sean Dale of Power 92(Chicago). This festival was well worth $20 and I would definitely attend it again next year.

I am TonShay Theresa and that was my African Festival Of The Arts Chicago Experience. Thank you for reading. Until next time.

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