The ZORA! Festival Celebrates a Quarter of a Century in 2014

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Leaders in music, drama, literature & art meet in Central Florida to be part of the 25th ZORA! Festival.

“We are pleased to present Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly at ZORA! Festival 2014,” said N.Y. Nathiri, Festival Director and Director of Multidisciplinary Programs for P.E.C. "We know that this band, features prominently in the life soundtrack of our fans."

For a quarter of a century, the list of artists attending the ZORA! Festival read like a Who’s Who List of contemporary culture. Ruby Dee and Ozzie Davis, Danny Glover, Dr. Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Celia Cruz, Ashford and Simpson, Al Jareau and Jeffrey Osbourne are but some of celebrities who have attended the ZORA! Festival over the last two and a half decades. This year’s Silver Anniversary Festival promises to be as equally exciting. Scheduled guests include actors Lynn Whitfield and Avery Brooks, the well-loved band Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Haitian American Author Edwidge Danticat, Spoken Word Poet and Activist Sonia Sanchez and comedienne Chaunté Wayans.

Several festival favorites will return this year, including the HATitude Brunch Party and Live at Center Stage. The HATitude Brunch Party which celebrates Zora Neale Hurston’s penchant for hats takes place on Saturday February 1st. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly will perform on Center Stage at 3PM that same day. Festival organizers have also added a new element to the schedule, patterned after the popular Slow Food Movement, which promotes local cuisine and traditional methods of food production. At several occasions throughout the Festival, the public will be invited to learn about local agriculture in Eatonville, sample traditional cuisine and experience Southern hospitality.

The ZORA! Festival celebrates the life and work of 20th century writer, folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston; her hometown, Eatonville, the nation’s oldest incorporated African American municipality; and the cultural contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and the world. The mission of the Association to Preserve Eatonville Community (P.E.C.) is to enhance the resources of Eatonville, to educate the public about the town’s historic and cultural significance, and to use the community’s heritage and cultural vibrancy for its economic development.

The Festival, also known as the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of Arts and Humanities, was originally a 3-day symposium created to delay Orange County’s plans to widen the main road through the historic town of Eatonville into a 5 lane highway. The last study commissioned by the predecessor of Visit Orlando, on cultural tourism in the region, indicated that the ZORA! Festival today, is one of Central Florida’s largest annual cultural events, generating more than $450,000 in economic impact every year, and attracting tens of thousands of visitors to Central Florida. Tourists come from all regions of the U.S., and from as far away as Russia and Japan for the 9-day multi-disciplinary Festival in Eatonville and across Orange County. A follow up study on the economic impact of the Festival will be conducted this year.

The Presenting Sponsor for ZORA! Festival 2014 is Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program. Major funding is also provided by these Community Partners: Florida Blue; Harper Collins Publishers, InGlur Inc, TeKontrol Inc., UCF, Office of the President; UCF College of Arts & Humanities, the Zora Neale Hurston Institute for Documentary Studies; and Visit Orlando.

The Festival schedule is available online at Information about individual events can also be obtained by following the Festival’s social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter, or by calling 407-647-3307.

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Adrienne Noel
since: 08/2010
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