Urbana Black Heritage Festival is Saturday


The Urbana Black Heritage Festival will enliven Barbara Howell Park and the East Market Street area on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The festival is a day-long family friendly celebration of local history and culture of Black Americans in Urbana and surrounding cities.

“This festival is a way of remembering important people and local events in the history of the Urbana community,” according to the event’s local organizers, led by Kalen Howell. “Our mission is to bring the community together to learn, share and celebrate our families across many generations. This Juneteenth we are celebrating Urbana’s rich legacy and we want you to celebrate with us.”

Asked how the festival was inspired locally, Howell connected its significance to larger historic events.

“On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday which marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were freed,” Howell said. “We chose this special day to celebrate Urbana’s black heritage by remembering important people and local events in the history of the African diaspora right here in Urbana, Ohio.”

A series of articles about black history in Urbana has been a key component of the festival planning for the past few months.

The series has raised awareness about the festival and about historical aspects of Urbana that may not be as well-known as others.

“Words cannot express the outpouring of love and support from the Urbana community. There are people and families of Urbana who are learning about their relatives who lived in the 1800s and 1900s for the first time. The sense of pride and joy in seeing these people and families recognized for their achievements instills hope, and joy and love amongst the people of Urbana,” Howell said.

“The support from individual donors, Urbana local businesses, companies, institutions, churches, and various organizations has been overwhelming. The journey leading up to this event has been positively impactful for many in our community. We are confident this festival will be successful. And with the support of our community we will continue to host this event and strive to make it better and better each year.

In the planning stages for months, the festival has recently announced a schedule of events on its website:

-Opening Ceremony: The festival will begin at 10 a.m. with live music and an opening ceremony to welcome festival guests to the event, including an announcement from Urbana Police Chief Matthew Lingrell.

-Vendor Market: The vendor market will be open for shopping and exploring local small businesses from the community.

-Heritage Connection: Heritage displays from local families will be available to explore. Learn about how we’re all connected and hear legacy stories from family members.

-Food Trucks: Enjoy delicious bites from food truck owners local to our community and surrounding cities.

-Live Entertainment: Head to the stage for live performances from local musical legends, spoken word artists, bands and many more entertainers.

-Tim Howell Car Show: Enjoy the first annual Tim Howell Car Show and check out luxury collectors cars as we celebrate the Top 20 and Best of Show participants.

The Urbana Black Heritage Festival is being supported by the 501c3 tax exempt The River of Life Christian Center.

The Urbana Black Heritage Festival curators said they have “strong ties to the local Urbana community and want to use this time of celebration to give back and elevate the community they grew up in.” They explain the sponsorship and partnership contributions to the festival will be poured back into the community through these three primary areas of impact:

-Revitalization of Barbara Howell Park

-Support for homeless in Champaign County

-Scholarships and mentoring for youth

Barbara Howell Park is a particularly poignant location for the festival with regard to Kalen Howell’s family story, which he recounted in a story he relayed for this story.

Kalen Howell wrote:

“I have a personal story that, turns out, is similar to many others. Each of us have been through pain, anger, grief of losing loved ones, trauma through navigating a pandemic and life tragedies, and all of the things in life that we’re dealing with. For me, I found healing when connecting to people. Connecting with friends of my late father, Charles (Tim) Howell, in June 2021, showed me and told me first hand of my dad’s compassion towards and action he took for our community. That led to conversations about the works of my grandmother, Barbara Howell, and continued to many other black men and women of Urbana, Ohio. It turns out that these men and women had friends and colleagues in the community, people of different races, who stood by them and loved them. This brings me pride and healing and especially joy in connecting with others, white and black, to hear and share these wonderful stories.

“In this day and age, our community, our nation, and our world, we need to come together to celebrate, to love, to laugh, to reconnect with each other. That’s what this festival is all about.”

For more information on how to share monetary gifts and festival donations, or to RSVP for the festival, visit www.urbanaheritagefestival.org.

https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2022/06/web1_KHowell.jpgSubmitted photo

The schedule of events for the Urbana Black Heritage Festival
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2022/06/web1_sched1.jpgThe schedule of events for the Urbana Black Heritage Festival Submitted graphic

The schedule of events for the Urbana Black Heritage Festival
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2022/06/web1_sched2.jpgThe schedule of events for the Urbana Black Heritage Festival Submitted graphic
Will be in East Market Street area

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