Just as the aroma of fresh fritti has cleared from last weekend’s Italian Heritage Festival, downtown Clarksburg is ready to celebrate yet again, this time showcasing the local African-American community.  Now in its 25th year, the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival is sure to be better than ever. The quarter century celebrations are in a new location, moving from E.B. Saunders Way to the Courthouse Plaza on Main Street. With soul food, live entertainment, and handmade crafts, this event offers area residents an amazing glimpse into African-American culture.

The Youth Block Party kicks off the festivities tonight at 6PM at Jackson Square with DJ Stevie Franchize. Saturday features a full day of events, beginning with the Opening Ceremonies taking place at noon. This ceremony is followed by hours of live music starting with the Dennis McClung Blues Band at 2 PM. The final performance of the evening, Dennis Edwards and the Temptations Review, will take the stage at 9 PM. On Sunday, all are invited to attend a community church service at 11 AM, also on the Courthouse Plaza, followed by the Gospel Explosion and the Closing Ceremonies at 6 PM.

Robert Quarles, a Maryland native and Director of Multicultural Programs and Services at West Virginia Wesleyan College, is looking forward to attending the festival for the first time. “I’m excited to see and experience African-American culture in West Virginia in a way that you may not get to regularly.”

The WVBHF had small beginnings, but through the years has always maintained its mission and purpose of “promoting the African-American experience while addressing the many milestones that the forefathers have made since the Emancipation Proclamation.” In 1990, members of the Kelly Miller Alumni Association initially held this event on September 22 to commemorate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. With impressive and growing numbers each year, the event quickly outgrew the Alumni Association and by 1995, the Festival was run by a Board of dedicated community members serving in elected roles.

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Along with the support of a long list of community sponsors, the Festival has grown to include increasing numbers of vendors and nationally recognized entertainers. This growth has also allowed the Festival to contribute to Clarksburg’s African-American community in big ways.  Each year, the Festival names a King and Queen who serve as positive roles models and have demonstrated service to the community.

Learn more about this annual event, plus view the full schedule at www.wvbhf.com and head downtown this weekend for the 25th Annual West Virginia Black Heritage Festival to experience history, heritage, and fun for the whole family.