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Forum Home > The Journey > Zora Neale Festival - Eatonville, FL

Tracy L. Darity
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Annual festival held to honor the legacy of Zora Neale Hurston.

January 23 - 31, 2010

Eatonville, Florida

 

January 29th through the 31st, I participated in my first Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Eatonville, FL. I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew it was a very large and well-attended festival; and I guess I thought since she was a noted author, there would be a central theme on literacy. The festival did pay homage to the writer/author, with several re-enactments and I did see advertisement for other events that as a vendor, I was unable to attend. So in terms of the festival itself, I can’t give a full assessment.

 

My biggest surprise was the lack of authors promoting their work. Prior to signing up, I did put out several posts on social networking sites to see if anyone had attended or would be participating and the silence was just that, silent. No one came forth to say they had participated or was looking to participate. This may have been due to the hefty fees to become a vendor and the very stiff and enforced rules of the governing body.

 

The festival was very well organized, which is a huge plus in my book. The common theme among vendors seemed to have been African fashions, jewelry, artifacts, and yes, shea butter. It appears that most festival goers were there to pick-up their annual supply of pure shea butter. Even my friend Kathie was calling from home to place orders for the thick buttery substance. By Sunday afternoon I was wondering if I needed some for myself.

 

The people of Orlando were wonderful, and that includes residents and those who traveled from within and outside Florida to attend the event. Friday was Kids Day, and when I say thousands travel from near and far, that’s what I mean. ..LOL I must have had this dumbfounded look on my face because a gentleman stopped by to inform me that I shouldn’t expect any business until after 2 p.m. because that’s when the kids clear out and the adults start arriving. He was right.

Saturday was expected to bring a huge crowd. My favorite male singer, Kem, was scheduled to perform at 3:30 pm. At about one, heavy showers descended upon us but that didn’t stop most from coming. Including fellow author Mia Alexander-Davis. Mia was unable to participate in the festival but did not allow that to break her spirit. She chose to spend her afternoon, despite the rain and dropping temperatures, helping me promote my book. Her presence helped me to realize that it takes more than a great book to draw buyers in, especially in this tough economy. Her personality was so contagious that people just stopped to hear what she was talking about. To this day I still have yet to find out if Kem actually performed, because I was far from the stage…darn it!

 

On Sunday, another Godsend came as the festival was closing. A young man I recognized from my hometown of St. Petersburg decided to stop by my both. The day was drawing to an end, temperatures never surpassed 52 degrees, and I was beat and ready to return home. I sent up a little prayer and asked God to send me 8 quick sales (that’s how many book were left on the table) and by the time we finished reminiscing, he was making a purchase of 9 books. Wow. Not only do I hope his staff enjoys “He Loves Me He Loves Me Not!” but that they recognize what an awesome employer they have.

 

All-in-all the festival was a positive experience. I am undecided as to whether or not I will participate as a vendor next year, but when I consider the people I met and the numbers in terms of those who now know Tracy L. Darity is on the scene, I somehow feel obligated to make a repeat appearance. We'll see.

 

Next up, the Allstar Authors Collective in Dallas, TX. February 13th, at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

P.S. Thanks Glenette and Tamela for your continued support.

February 10, 2010 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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