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Odunde Festival is returning to Philly June 8-12. Photo Courtesy of the Odunde Festival.
Odunde Festival is returning to Philly June 8-12. Photo Courtesy of the Odunde Festival.

The Odunde Festival in Philly returns in person, after its two-year pause

The festival will be heading to South Philly, making it the first in-person celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Odunde Festival is coming back to Philly after a two-year hiatus. The celebration begins on June 8 and lasts through June 12, and will give Philly locals a glimpse of the vibrant colors, customs, and traditions of African American culture.

The anticipated celebration will begin on 23rd and South Streets at noon and will begin with a poetry slam. Organizers are expected to have dozens of vendors selling homemade treats, handcrafted jewelry, artifacts, and one-of-a-kind apparel.

Attendees will head to the Schuylkill, where they can toss flowers and fruit as an offering to the goddess, Oshun.

The goddess is also celebrated in Latin America and the Caribbean, in nations such as Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, in which the goddess is called “Ochun.”

The celebration will also kick off with head wrapping workshops and taste testing sessions. The festival will also have African, Brazilian, and Caribbean food staples.

Folks are looking forward to partaking in the festivities. The Odunde Festival is considered the largest African American street festival in the country, taking over around 15 blocks on Grays Ferry Ave and is expected to have two live stages for entertainment.

With over 500,000 people expected to join in on the fun, there will also have a big economic impact for Philadelphia, of at least $28 million.

Mayor Jim Kenney discussed the importance of having every culture represented in the city.

“It's great to be back in person after two years celebrating the festival, which highlights the diversity and richness of African-American culture,” he said.

The festival was originally created by cultural activist and Philly native Lois Fernandez in 1975 to bring African traditions to Philadelphia. The tradition originates from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. The Yoruba people make up 48 million residents in Africa alone.

Odunde means “Happy New Year” in Yoruba language, making this celebration a fresh start.

Since Fernandez’s passing in 2017, her daughter, Oshunbumi Fernandez-West, says that the event will be bigger than ever.

"Odunde has a $28M economic impact on the city of Philadelphia in 10 hours," she said to Action News. "No other festival can do that."

Fernandez-West is also hoping the event will bring more people together, especially since the ongoing gun violence crisis that has been plaguing the city.

"We need to stop this violence. We are more than the violence we are having in this city," said Fernandez-West.

If you are looking forward to some fun and delicious food this summer, head out to the Odunde Festival.

For more information, visit their website.

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