EUSTIS — More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the 14th Annual Eustis African-American Heritage Festival on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Eustis High Curtright Campus, located at 1801 Bates Ave.
As the oldest African-American heritage festival in Lake County, the event is more than just a one-day get-together. The celebration begins Sunday, Feb. 11, with the Eustis Nubian Pageant at 6 p.m. in the Eustis Community Center, located at 601 Northshore Drive. A girl and boy from four different age groups, 3-6, 7-10, 11-14, and 15-18, are selected to represent the pageant during the African-American Heritage Parade. Suggested donations for admission into the pageant are $3 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under.
The festivities continue on Friday, Feb. 16, with the Ninth Annual Black Achievers’ Award Banquet at 7 p.m. at the Eustis Community Center. This semi-formal gala honors current and former Eustis resident achievers. Suggested donation for admission into the banquet is $25.
“We select people that have made a significant contribution to themselves, the community and others,” said Carla Mitchell, a member of the Eustis African-American Heritage Committee. “We put the announcement out to the churches and the citizens recommend people we need to honor that have really achieved greatness. This year we have nine honorees, and two of these nine are students from Eustis High School.”
The big events begin Feb. 17 with the Eustis African-American Heritage Parade. Beginning at 10 a.m., more than 60 entries in the parade will march along Bates Avenue ending at the Eustis High Curtright Campus.
The end of the parade signals the beginning of the Annual Eustis African-American Heritage Festival from noon to 4 p.m. The festival features soul food, cultural exhibits, African art, crafts, entertainment and activities for children.
About 75 vendors are expected at the event, including booths sponsored by community and health services, which will provide information about the help they provide to the community. A variety of musical entertainment is provided at the festival, such as gospel groups featuring rap, R&B, jazz and blues music.
“This is an all-day party celebrating our heritage,” Mitchell said. “It’s a festival of harmony. Many of former Eustis residents plan their vacation around this time to come back home.”
For more information about the 14th Annual Eustis African-American Heritage Festival, call (352) 589-6448.