Bimbé festival draws thousands

May. 18, 2013 @ 09:44 PM

The Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival was music to the ears for thousands Saturday as the annual event electrified downtown.

The celebration of African and African-American cultural art brought people of all ages, including 74-year-old Carolyn Brewer of Durham, whose theme was green.

Brewer wore green clothing and even green lipstick, drawing questions from passers-by. She said she chose the color to celebrate the festival and last month’s Earth Day.

“I’ve enjoyed coming to the festival since 2008,” Brewer said after a heavy downpour threatened, but failed, to drown out the music. “I love music, and I love to be around people and dancing.” She said gospel and reggae are her favorites.

Brewer came prepared – with fruit, sandwiches, potato chips and bottled water, and planned to stay for the entire eight-hour festival.

Leroy Williams drove to the festival from the Halifax County town of Littleton. Williams, who is retired, said he’d heard about the festival for years, but wasn’t able to attend until now.

“I’m just relaxing,” he said.

Cathy Whitt of Roxboro said she came to hear the bands, especially Grammy winners Naughty by Nature, known for hits like “O.P.P.,” “Feel Me Flow” and “Hip Hop Hooray.”

Whitt said she likes the group’s music because it reminds her of songs from her youth, “from back in the day.”

Her husband, Nealie Whitt, had just finished a hot dog from one of several food vendors. “It was delicious,” he said. “Real tasty.”

Shawn Walker was selling jewelry she creates by hand, including earrings, bracelets and necklaces. She said she likes the festival because it’s a good way to market her creations and because “it brings everyone together.”

The 44th-annual festival, held at the CCB Plaza at 201 N. Corcoran St., was presented by the Durham Parks and Recreation. Spokeswoman Cynthia Booth said 15,000 were expected to attend.

Phil Cook of Durham brought his family, and said he loved the atmosphere.

“It’s just great to be here,” he said. “This is part of what it means to live in Durham and experience what Durham has to offer. It’s a great place.”