Get an early jump on summer and add these African American Midwest Festivals to your calendar.


Cincinnati Jazz BBQAs 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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Columbus Black Theatre Festival
July 6 – 8
Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215
Tickets $0 – $50

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 can be purchased online. Visit Columbus Black Theatre for show times and dates.


Taste of Chicago
July 11-15
Grant Park, Jackson & Columbus Road, Chicago, IL 60602
Free Admission

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.


2018 National Baby Food Festival
July 18 – 21
7 E. Main St., Fremont, MI, 49412
Free Admission

The mission of the National Baby Food Festival is to provide creative and unique entertainment, activities, and community services for the public that directly contributes to and celebrates the aesthetic, cultural, economic and historical elements of the Fremont area. The 2018 Festival will kick off on Wednesday, July 18th, with the Kids Expo.  It’s an afternoon of fun for children 0 – 12 years old, filled with hands on activities, crafts, food, kid’s parade, bike race, and the midway opens at noon.


Columbus 20th Annual Heritage Music Festival
July 19 & 26, August 2, 9, & 16
Mayme Moore Park, 867 Mount Vernon Avenue, Columbus, OH 43203
Free Admission

Join the King Arts Complex for the 20th Annual Heritage Music Festival. Once known as the ‘Cradle of Jazz”, the Mount Vernon corridor of the King Lincoln District is the place to be every Thursday in July and August. Performances from local, regional and national musical artists will keep it hot with Jazz, Classical R&B, inspirational and Blues! Bring a blanket or lawn chair, and relax in the beautiful, breezy ambiance of Mayme Moore Park. A Food Court and reserved tables on the Patio will be available. Event hours are from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. On the last two dates, event hours change to 5;30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.


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
Free Admission

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
July 20-22
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. 


14th Annual Celebration of The World of Faeries Festival
August 4-5
Vasa Park Front Gate, 35 W 217 Route 31, South Elgin, IL  60177
Tickets $10

The 14th Annual Celebration of The World of Faeries Festival will have vendors, merchants, food, and entertainment. Festival hours are Saturday 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m – 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online, and discount senior and weekend passes can be purchased at the gate. Children under 12 are free and there is free parking available. This is an alcohol and pet-free event, but picnic baskets may be brought in. Call 815-788-1630 for more information.


Detroit African World Festival
August 17 – 19
Museum of African American History, 315 East Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
Free Admission

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
Free Admission

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
August 18
Dayton Island Metro Park, 101 Helena Street, Dayton OH 45404
Free Admission

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
August 19
Courthouse Square, Corner of Third & Main, Dayton, OH 45404
Free Admission

This family event 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
Muhammad Ali Blvd. Between 17th & 18th Street, Louisville KY 40212
Free Admission

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
September 28-30
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, follow us on Facebook or text VOBC to 797979 for local news, events, job postings, scholarships and a database of local Black-owned businesses.





Marissa Staples, Writer
The Voice of Black Cincinnati