Get an early jump on summer and add these African American Midwest Festivals to your calendar.
As the warm weather slowly approaches, so is the need to be outside with good friends, drinks and music. That also means mini weekend trips your girls, guys or a quick family getaway. Check out these African American Midwest Festivals that won’t break your bank.
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Cincinnati Midwest Regional Sweet & Natural Festival
Washington Park, 1230 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
This event highlights economic mobility and admiration for ethnic beauty & culture in a family-friendly atmosphere. There will be games, vendors and music for everyone to enjoy. This festival is free and open to the public. Event hours are from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off
May 25 – 28
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, 164 Eastland Rd., Berea, OH 44017
Tickets $0 – $5
Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off has everything! Food, live music, face-painting, a rock climbing wall, and more! Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off makes a special effort to create family friendly environment with a picnic-style atmosphere. The festival offers free parking all weekend and free admission for children under 12. Event hours for are Friday 12 p.m.-11 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Monday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Columbus Soul 614 @ The Commons
Columbus Commons, 160 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215
Tickets $25 – $100
Come and enjoy performances from yesterday and today’s RnB, Hip Hop, and Classic Soul superstars at this all day and into the night event. Crowds can also enjoy excellent food trucks and retail vendors. All seating is lawn seating. Only folding/camping chairs can be brought in. Event hours are 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Columbus African American Cultural Festival
King-Lincoln District (Long Street between North Garfield Rd. and Lester Drive)
The African-American Cultural Festival, produced by the Columbus Recreation & Parks Department with support from the Department of Neighborhoods, celebrates freedom and equal rights through opportunities to experience the rich history of the African-American culture. The event will showcase local talent while honoring history and community through live music, spoken word and dance performances in Columbus’ historic King-Lincoln District. Activities for the entire family include KidsZone fun, community and wellness resources, food vendors, and more. This family-filled day of fellowship, food and fun is open to all. Event hours are 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
CSU Arts and Humanities Alive Festival, The AHA! Festival
June 7 – 9
Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
Tickets $0 – $30
The Cleveland State University/Playhouse Square neighborhood will be alive with words, music, theater, dance and art celebrating CSU’s 2nd annual AHA! Festival. This is the first of its kind in Ohio. AHA! brings world-renowned authors, performers and celebrities like the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and six-time NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for an inspirational talk about reading books and how reading can positively impact our lives. Events will include a day-long outdoor Book Fair, keynote speaker and actor Hill Harper, various authors and publishers, interactive exhibits, adult theatre performances, along with food trucks and entertainers. The CSU Dance Studio will offer a free dance workshop! Check the list of events for festival times, performances and tickets.
Chicago Blues Festival
June 8 – 10
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601
The Chicago Blues Festival is the largest free blues festival in the world and remains the largest of Chicago’s Music Festivals. During three days on five stages, you will see artists including Mavis Staples, Selwyn Birchwood, and tributes to Little Walter and Bob Koester! Event hours are from 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Parking packages are available.
Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival
June 16 – 17
Eden Park, 1198 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202
The Annual Juneteenth Festival feature cultural music in the form of the blues, African drumming & dancing, gospel, jazz, reggae and more! The food vendors offer a wide variety of food, clothing, art, folk crafts and ethnic literature. As always, the festival will start with its Peach March. Event hours are 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Detroit River Days
June 22 – 24
Tickets $0 – $5
This one of a kind festival takes place along the Detroit Riverfront – from the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Terminal & Dock just west of the GM Renaissance Center, to Rivard Plaza and the William G. Milliken State Park. River Days is a celebration of Detroit’s RiverWalk with activities on land and water. Experience all the RiverWalk has to offer, from the summer slide to the kid zone, ziplines, delicious eats and much more! Event hours are 11 a.m. – 10 a.m. Friday through Sunday.
Columbus Black Theatre Festival
July 6 – 8
Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215
Tickets go on sale May 1
The Columbus Black Theatre Festival brings to the capital city of Ohio original plays that pertain not only to the African American community but society at large. Various plays will take place Friday through Sunday including a poetry slam and open mic contest. Tickets go on sale May 1. Visit Columbus Black Theatre for show times and dates.
Taste of Chicago
Grant Park, Jackson & Columbus Road, Chicago, IL 60602
The delicious array of food served at Taste of Chicago is complemented by music and exciting activities for the entire family. Every summer since 1980, Chicago’s beautiful Grant Park on the city’s magnificent lakefront has been home to the world’s largest food festival. All patrons will need to purchase food and drink tickets after entering the park. Event hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Indiana Black Expo
July 13 – 22
3145 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Tickets $0 – $100
Indiana Black Expo, Inc. celebrates cultural diversity and inclusiveness across all races, ethnicities, nationalities, generations, socioeconomic levels and religious affiliations. We continue to strive for excellence by providing unique events and programs which reflect the changing landscape of Indiana and the world. Enjoy youth summits, food, health and retail vendors plus concerts at night. Admission to the exhibition hall is free. Tickets prices for the concerts range from $50 – $100. The education conference is $45. All tickets can be purchased online. Discount tickets for the expo’s Music Heritage Festival with Maze, Frankie Beverly & Blackstreet on Saturday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. are available on Groupon
Columbus Jazz and Rib Festival
July 20 – 22
Bicentennial, West Bank, and Genoa Parks on the Scioto Mile, 303 West Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215
Jazz & Rib Fest is one of Columbus’s most anticipated summer traditions offering local, regional and international jazz performances for over thirty years. The three-day event includes a cook-off between award-winning barbeque teams from around the country. Teams compete for bragging rights for “Best Ribs” and serve up sizzling ribs, chicken and more. Event hours are 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday and 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Black Expo America
1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville, KY, 40203
Tickets $15 – $40
Black Expo America Inc. is a national exposition, tradeshow and direct marketing company that produces business expos and conferences in major states such as New York, Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, Kentucky, and Connecticut. Tickets will be available for purchase soon for the Louisville, KY showcase. Black Expo America Inc. is one of the leading event planners uniting distinguished African-American, Caribbean and African entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals by showcasing their products and services nationwide.
Cincinnati Music Festival
July 26 – 28
Paul Brown Stadium, 1 Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Tickets $50 – $150
Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 513-924-0900. This year’s lineup includes DJ Jazzy Jeff, Charlie Wilson, Boyz II Men, Jill Scott, The Roots, and more. Don’t miss the ’90s-themed pre-party on Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium’s East Club Lounge, with a fashion show, performances, DJs and more. Groupon has 1 and 2-day tickets available from $58 – $130.
Detroit African World Festival
August 17 – 19
Museum of African American History, 315 East Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
The 36th Annual African World Festival brings attendees to the grounds of The Wright Museum for this free 3-day festival for the entire family featuring performances, poetry, arts and crafts, African drumming and dance, hundreds of vendors, ethnic foods, and events for all ages! Event hours are 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Cincinnati Black Family Reunion
August 17 – 19
Sawyer Pointe, 705 East Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
This is one of Cincinnati’s largest family-focused events. This 3-day fun-filled weekend event brings consumers, corporations, and communities together to focus on the historic strengths and values of the Black Family. Events include a city-wide parade, local talent performers, games, food and drinks. Bring your families and friends and make this a reunion to remember! Event hours are 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Dayton African American Cultural Festival
Dayton Island Metro Park, 101 Helena Street, Dayton OH 45404
Come out and enjoy live music, African drumming, Jazz, R&B, Blues, Hip Hop, dancers, live performances and more! There will be health care screenings, merchandise and food vendors. Diverse people will be brought together in celebration. Saturday hours are 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Dayton African American Cultural Festival
Courthouse Square, Corner of Third & Main, Dayton, OH 45404
This family event to brings the richness of the African American experience to the Dayton and surrounding communities in the areas of culture. There will be live Gospel music, health care screenings, merchandise and food vendors. Diverse people will be brought together in celebration. Event hours are 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Louisville African Heritage Festival
August 24 – 26
Muhammed Ali Blvd. Between 17th & 18th Street, Louisville KY 40212
The African Heritage Festival is a celebration of unity, culture, art and history across the African Diaspora. It is a joyous two-day event for the whole family with great food, music, dance, sports, fashion, cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, resources for healthy living and so much more. Join us for this exciting celebration of African, African-American, and Caribbean cultures! Event hours are 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday.
Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival
September 20 – 28
Shaker Square Cinemas, Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 44120
Tickets $25 – $150
The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival was created with the artistic vision to present and expose the work of emerging talents and established artists who are contributing to the cinematic legacy as well as celebrating urban culture. GCUFF showcases minority films, which reinforces positive images and dispels negative stereotypes. The film festival provides a forum for the work of diverse filmmakers to be viewed and discussed. In addition to its cinematic showcases, GCUFF nurtures its attendees in a variety of disciplines, offering panel discussions, workshops and symposiums. Tickets can be purchased online.
Cincinnati Midwest MIND, Body & Beauty Expo
Woodlawn Community Center, 10050 Woodlawn Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45215
Tickets $10 – 20
Midwest MIND, Body & Beauty Expo is one of the city’s premier cultural events of the Fall. It’s where individuals, families, and small businesses come to immerse themselves in the richness of movement, music, natural beauty, self-empowerment and wellness at the end of September. Tickets can be purchased online.
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If there are any festivals in the Midwest area that we have missed, please let us know at The Voice of Black Cincinnati.
The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans in the region. Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook for local news, events, job postings, scholarships and a database of local Black-owned businesses.
Marissa Staples, Writer
The Voice of Black Cincinnati