After the three-year absence of the Black Arts Festival, a Labor Day weekend celebration returns to Northeast Wichita with the four-day MelaninFest, a collaborative event of several community organizations, taking place on the Wichita State University Campus and in the historic Dunbar Arts District (9th and Cleveland).

For certain, this isn’t the Black Arts Festival, but the organizers are making sure to “honor and celebrate” this, the 50th Anniversary of that historic event. It appears several groups had a similar idea, they didn’t want the festival’s 50th Anniversary to go unnoticed, with each working to develop a smaller event for Labor Day weekend.

“In the spirit of community unity and cooperation, we decided to combine our efforts,” says Lawrence Williamson with Alleyez Images, one of the event sponsors.

The resulting combined effort will be a much bigger and greater event for the community beginning Fri., Aug. 31, and continuing through Labor Day, Mon., Sept. 3.

There are events for children and adults, and a strong focus on community economic empowerment.

There’s a youth entrepreneurship workshop and a Black business appreciation expo on Saturday at WSU’s Rhatigan Student Center.

Community businesses are encouraged to participate, whether your business is a small startup or an established pillar in the community, the expo is a great opportunity to build relationship with each other and the community.

To participate in the business expo, reach out to LaKeesha Dailey at 469-980-0735 or by e-mail at

Other things to start preparing for are:

The 5K Red Trail 5K Run and 2K Walk on Sat., Sept. 1. Registration is $20 and include a t-shirt, weekend event pass and gift pack.

The Wakandan-Style Ball, a red carpet affair on Sat., Sept. 1. Tickets are $20.

•Get your dollars together to buy a MelaninFest wristband in support of the effort. Wristbands are $5 for adults and $1 for children.

The proceeds raised from the wristband help cover the festival expenses. Remember, we failed to buy Black Arts Festival buttons and you see what happened, it eventually disappeared, mostly due to the lack of funds and resources. Let’s not have this happen to MelaninFest.

So far, festival wristbands are available at P&P Seed and Bait, Franklin’s Barbers Shop, and Rosaline’s International. The wristbands cover admission to all events except the 5Krun/walk and the Wakandan Ball.

Sponsor groups of MelaninFest include: POWER CDC, Wichita State University Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Africa United ,Destination Innovation Camp and Alleyz Images.

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