The smell of mouth-watering food filled the air, vendors selling a variety of products from incense to jewelry to African Shea Butter lined the area and music blared as a healthy flow of people busily bustled about, stopping to browse the merchandise and sample the food.
This was the template scene for the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival, which kicked off April 16th and stretched through the following Sunday. On this – day three – the focus at Robert R. Church Park in Downtown Memphis was on children and senior citizens Day.
The 2014 event honored the West African country of Burkina Faso. Africa in April, which is run by Dr. David L. Acey and his wife, Yvonne B. Acey, annually honors different African cultures. And the cultural exposure that it brings to Memphis is important, according to one of the vendors present at the event.
"It's important because it exposes the city and community to African culture, especially those who haven't been taught it, (and because) positive African culture is omitted from public education," vendor Kwasi said.
He sat behind a table covered in T-shirts bearing phrases such as "I Love Being a Black Woman" and "Strong Black Man" and images of figures such as the Obamas.
The event even appealed to those who weren't from the Memphis community.
Tyler Williams, a California native who lives in Little Rock, heard about the event from a waitress at the Hard Rock Café and decided to check it out while she was in Memphis.
"I think it's important so people from the community can be exposed to the diversity," Williams said.
For attendee Darius Nelson, the appeal of Africa in April could be found in the cultural connection it brought. He said it's important to have cultural events such as Africa in April because, "You can get in touch with your roots. You have to get in touch with your roots."
Africa in April also appealed to those in the mood to shop, such as Nelson's fiancé , Amanda Chaney, who admitted that she was attracted to the event because she wanted "to buy stuff." The festival hosted a variety of vendors selling sundresses, T-shirts, jewelry and more.
Although attendee Bria Green enjoyed the things that were available for purchase, she also appreciated the opportunity to be exposed to another culture.
"(I came here) to see what another culture was like," Green said.