Kentucky State University marching band in Festival Parade, September 11, 1999. Photo: Thomas A. Adler
Roots and Heritage Festival and Parade
and African American Marketplace
Held annually September as four-week-long series of
events, the Roots and Heritage Festival promotes pride and cultural
continuity among area residents through cultural exchange and
highlights contributions by African-Americans. It is sponsored by
the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and corporate
sponsors throughout the area and is organized and planned by local
volunteers with the aid of local government officials.
The Roots and Heritage Festival includes a parade,
art exhibits, health fairs, concerts and symposia, recreational
activities, poetry readings, plays, speakers, a formal ball, film
presentations, children's activities, and a two-day street
festival. African-American artists are featured and festival-goers
get a chance to meet the artists and purchase their signed work.
The parade takes place along Lexington's Rose Street Extension. Two
performance states featuring guest speakers, spirited music,
singing, African dance, a fashion show and a large variety of other
activities for young and old highlight this all-day festival.
Stage I is the main stage and serves as the guest
speaker's platform and an arena for key entertainment, which has
included some nationally known speakers and performers.
Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Alex Haley helped propel the success
of the festival by being its first guest of honor during the 1989
event. Awards and presentations to promote ethnic pride are given to
area African-Americans who have made a difference. Former award
recipients have included sports figures, educators and others who
have made an impact in the African-American community.
Stage II provides enjoyment primarily for and by
young people. Performers have included story-tellers, dancers,
rappers, singers, and actors. A children's arena also provides a
place for young children to enjoy activities such as
street-mural-painting, body adornments, and mask making.
The festival ends with the soulful sounds of gospel
music, a mainstay of African-American culture. Local and regional
church choirs and soloists from various denominations perform.
The African American Marketplace, where vendors come
from across the country, presents an opportunity for festival-goers
to purchase ethnic foods, jewelry, African art pieces and novelty
Project documentation comprises two four-page
narratives, eleven slides with captions, a brochure, and a
"souvenir booklet" entitled: "11th Roots and Heritage Festival
Originally submitted by: Ernie Fletcher, Representative (6th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.