ZORA! Festival brings 9 day celebration to Eatonville

ZORA! Festival brings 9 day celebration to Eatonville
(ZORA! Festival)

The Zora Neale Hurston Festival of Arts and Humanities is celebrating its 31st year in Historic Eatonville, Florida, with a nine-day celebration of music, literature, fashion, economic development and the arts of the African diaspora from Jan. 25 through Feb. 2, 2020.

The festival is named for Zora Neale Hurston, the African American author, anthropologist and filmmaker who spent her formative years in Eatonville. Those years later served as inspiration for her work, the most famous of which was the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

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Over the nine days, events will take place in Eatonville and in surrounding Orange County, Florida. Highlights include:

The Outdoor Festival of the Arts

The Outdoor Festival of the Arts Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 is a fan favorite drawing thousands of visitors to Eatonville.

Activities include Education Day, Line Dancing in the Zora Neale Hurston Square (adjacent to the Eatonville Public Library), Center Stage performances, Gospel Hour and Southern Soul Concert featuring many gospel artists.

Attendees can also visit food vendors in the International Food Court, the African Trade Expo, the ZORA! STEM Activity Hub and the Afrofuturism Pavilion with a modern twist on merchandising and edutainment.

You can find out more about the Outdoor Festival of the Arts and purchase tickets in advance here.

The Afrofuturism Conference

A two-day Afrofuturism Conference, Jan. 30 and 31, begins at the new Downtown UCF campus with a second day in Eatonville for a chance to hear poet, playwright, novelist, essayist and songwriter Ishmael Reed deliver the Zora Neale Hurston Arts and Humanities lecture.

Tickets are required for the Afrofuturism Conference, and you can purchase them in advance online.

‘Beyond Black Panther: Up Close and Personal Masquerade Party’

The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community will host the “Beyond Black Panther: Up Close & Personal Masquerade Party,” a signature Afro-Futurist event with dinner and conversation, on Feb. 1 at the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The evening is a fundraising event benefiting the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc.'s year-round educational programming. Guests are encouraged to wear their finest African-inspired Sci-Fi costumes.

For tickets and more information about the masquerade, click here.

Inaugural Africa-America Women's Economic Forum

The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community is presenting the inaugural Africa-America Women’s Economic Forum at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 30 at 9 a.m.

Participants will engage with a multicultural mix of female leaders exploring commerce and culture bridging Africa and America. Lunch is included with the purchase of the ticket online.

Seminole State Speaker Series presents author Dr. Kinitra Brooks

The Seminole State College of Florida's Speaker Series, in partnership with the ZORA! Festival, will present Dr. Kinitra Brooks, who specializes in the study of black women, genre fiction and popular culture, on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.

Brooks is the Audrey and John Leslie endowed chair in literary studies in the Department of English at Michigan State University and is the author of “The Lemonade Reader: Beyoncé, Black Feminism and Spirituality.”

Brooks will discuss how Beyoncé embodies the conjure woman in her iconic audiovisual work “Lemonade” as a contemporary revision of Hurston’s groundbreaking study of conjure and its place in black women’s spirit work.

The free event will be followed by a reception and book signing.

More information about the 31st annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of Arts and Humanities can be found on its official website.