Multi-Cultural Festival features theme nights

PARKERSBURG -The 19th annual Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival will feature three days of food, fun, entertainment and activities Friday through Sunday at City Park in Parkersburg.

The festival will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at the park.

For a third year, the festival is adopting a theme for opening night, with Friday being “African Theme Night” with performances by Kenya Safari Acrobats at 6:30 p.m. and Jabali Afrika at 8:30 p.m. The theme night will also feature an African Drumming Workshop at 6:15 p.m. and a Drum Circle at 7:30 p.m., both featuring the Ugata Drummers led by Lawrence Green on the Arts In Motion Stage.

Kenya Safari Acrobats is a Kenyan Acrobat/Dance Troupe which takes acrobatics to exhilarating extremes. They will perform a non-stop ride of gravity-defying human pyramids, balancing, tumbling, limbo dancing, hurling through hoops and breathtaking contortions, all while clapping to a joyful Benga beat.

Jabali Afrika will present traditional African music. The band prides itself on creating music that can shake the hip as well as the soul.

Greene is the founder of Ugata, a cultural education and social services organization based in Southeast Ohio. He has been performing and teaching West African drum traditions for 10 years. He uses movement and sound to develop spiritual clarity and inspiration for his students and self. During the drumming workshop, participants will move through some traditional west African rhythms. Ugata Drummers will have djembes, dun dun drums and various percussion pieces.

The weekend’s entertainment will feature a mixture of old and new faces, including The Freedom Band, Visinata, Kevin Locke, Phillips Bird, Tom Carroll, Todd Burge and Graham Denmon, among others.

The Freedom Band will perform reggae music, both classic and new styles.

Visinata is an Ethnic Tribute Band which plays polkas, waltzes, music from eastern and southern Europe, as well as a wide variety of contemporary selections and American standards. It also plays a selection of Italian, Greek, Romanian, Hungarian, Croation, Serbian, Ukranian, Russian music and more.

Burge is known for his original songs, along with scat singing and lyrical humor to lighten the mood of some heavy subjects.

Denmon is an electric violinist. His father introduced music to him and his brother. Being young African American men, he felt that it was very uncommon for them to play stringed instruments. Starting at the age of 5, Denmon’s father pushed them and told them that the sky was the limit. He feels it was his father’s persistence that helped make him the musician and man he is today.

Locke is a Lakota Hoop Dancer and is known as a player of the Northern Plains flute, a traditional storyteller, cultural ambassador, recording artist and educator.

The MacConmara Academy of Irish Dance “Celtic Storm” is an Irish Dance Group from Akron. The Academy was created in order to teach students of all ages the art of traditional Irish dance. Dancers from the group have gone on to perform solos in numerous competitions throughout the country. Their show is non-stop dancing, along with some singing and instrument-playing.

The Pipes and Drums of St. Andrew is a Parkersburg-based bagpipe band currently under the direction of Drum Major Curt Mitchell and Pipe Major Carl Henson. The band members come from eastern and north central West Virginia and southern Ohio, and range in age from 16 to 80.

Carroll has been a mainstay in the Central Ohio jazz music scene for 35 years. He co-led the jazz trio, Organic Chemistry, with Hank Marr starting in 1979. He performs regularly with violinist Andy Carlson at Barcelona Restaurant and is in his seventh year of playing solo guitar every Wednesday at The Granville Inn in Granville. He teaches at Denison University where he is a guitar instructor and Coordinator of Jazz.

Baba Jubal Harris has been offering drumming workshops and storytelling at the festival for several years. He has performed throughout the United States and West Africa and is currently a master craftsman in the Ohio Arts Council traditional artist apprenticeship program.

In addition to a variety of concessions and vendor booths, there will be a Children’s Activity Center in the City Park Pavilion, History Hitting the Road and the Arts in Motion Stage.

Children’s arts and crafts will take place in the Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday with drum-making workshops and hula hoop making workshops on Saturday.