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Festival celebrates Oklahoma's black cultural heritage

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Celebrate Oklahoma's black cultural heritage at the Africa West Cultural Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival, only in its second year, will fill the entire Metro Tech Springlake campus, 1900 Springlake, with activities, games and food.

Scheduled activities include a 5K run, a 2K walk, a gospel concert, a fashion show, a national soul food competition and Buffalo Soldier re-enactments. The festival also will have areas dedicated to food, technology, healthy lifestyles and fitness. A kids' area will be set up with a child-identification program sponsored by Cricket Wireless.

Also on the campus, an African village will be built onsite so that visitors can visually experience what traditional African living is like.

LACK OF FESTIVAL DIVERSITY
The festival was founded by John Hasley, chairman of the Capitol Chamber of Commerce, who lamented a lack of festival diversity, said Amy Walling, an event spokeswoman.

"Out of all the different festivals, none were African-American," she said. "It was time to get it going."

The event was created to celebrate black culture, as well as development in Northeast Oklahoma City, Walling said.

Calls for poetry and art were sent to the area schools, encouraging students to submit works about their heritage.

"It's a chance to invite people to see Northeast Oklahoma City in a fun and family-friendly environment," Walling said.

Run registration starts 7 a.m. Saturday. The free festival is open until 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. "Jamie Birdwell

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