Our Guide To The Odunde Festival, Set To Bring A Celebration Of African-American Culture To South Street West This Sunday, June 9

Spanning 12 city blocks of South Street, the annual Odunde Festival is a lively celebration of African American culture. (Photo courtesy Odunde Festival)

The excellent Odunde Festival, one of the longest-running and largest African-American festivals, has returned for its 38th year this week, with a blockbuster festival set for this Sunday, June 9.

Odunde, a local cultural organization with a mission of serving the need for cultural enrichment in the African-American community, celebrates traditions originating with the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa.

In addition to the street fair, a variety of events are slated to take place at various locales throughout the city, including a Guinness World Record-sized Zumba Class on Saturday, June 8. The class begins at 9 a.m. on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is taught by instructor Jena Renee Rogers. To take part in the huge Zumba class, click here to register.

The blockbuster street fair taking over streets from 23rd and Lombard to Grays Ferry and Christian, and along South Street from 20th to 24th streets.

With reported attendance to top more than 500,000 visitors, the street fair on June 9 features more than 200 food and artisan vendors and is one of the largest community-based street festivals in the country.

Read on for our guide to the blockbuster block party, and check here for more.

The Layout

Come Sunday, the street festival spans 12 city blocks in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood. Streets will be blocked off to make way for the tremendous crowds and eats.

Stroll the streets from 23rd and Lombard streets to Grays Ferry and Christian, and from 20th and South streets to 24th and South streets.

Kicking off at 10 a.m. and running through 8 p.m., the festival is slated to see thousands and thousands pass through the neighborhood. If you are out and about, shout it out and tag your tweets and photos with the hashtag #GraduateHospital.

The Vendors

Odunde’s authentic African Marketplace features vendors from around the world, including the Caribbean and Brazil.

More than 200 artists, crafters and food vendors come out to supply the festival with African artifacts, clothing and crafts, as well as African, Caribbean and Soul foods.

In addition to local and regional vendors, look for international vendors from such African countries as Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.

The Procession

Odunde is a Yoruba word that means “Happy New Year,” and the day-long festival begins with a celebration to honor the new year.

The festival begins with a procession to the Schuylkill River, where offerings of fruits and flowers are made to Oshun, the Goddess of the River. The procession then returns to 23rd and South Streets for the start of the street festival.

The Music and Entertainment

In the spirit of Black Music Month, expect lots of festive music and dancing. A huge range of live music and family-friendly fun span the entire block party, with two main stages.

On the Queen Lois stage on South Street, nine acts take the stage throughout the day beginning at 1:30 p.m. Look out for traditional dance performances at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and headliner Big Daddy Kane to finish out the festivities at 7 p.m.

Over at the Odunde 365 stage on Grays Ferry Avenue, a jam-packed schedule of nearly 20 acts are slated to perform from 1:30 to 6:15 p.m. Each group will dance, sing or jam for 10 to 20 minutes, and performers range from student fashion groups to professional African drummers.

Getting There

The streets around 23rd and South streets and Grays Ferry Avenue will be closed to traffic; attendees are encouraged to take public transportation.

Want to keep exploring after Odunde ends? Graduate Hospital has a ton of great restaurants and shops to check out. Check out the Graduate Hospital Neighborhood guide on Visit Philly’s new Philadelphia Neighborhoods section for a great map of places to stop by afterwards.

2013 Odunde Festival
When: Through June 9
Where: Locations vary; Festival, 23rd and South streets
Cost: Free
More info: www.odundefestival.org



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