Part cultural festival, part neighborhood party, the African Village Arts Festival will be held Friday through Sunday, Aug. 19 through 21, in the William H. Thomas Gallery on Bryden Road and in the open space next to Kwanzaa Playground across the street.

Part cultural festival, part neighborhood party, the African Village Arts Festival will be held Friday through Sunday, Aug. 19 through 21, in the William H. Thomas Gallery on Bryden Road and in the open space next to Kwanzaa Playground across the street.

Organizers would like to re-emphasize both aspects of the festival as it celebrates its 10th year.

"The theme this year is 'All of Us Together,'" said Shelbi Harris, the primary organizer of this year's festival. "It's a tradition of this community, part of an effort to try and establish the community formally as African Village, and the people in the neighborhood are always glad to see the sign go up letting them know the festival is coming."

The festival is also a celebration of the culture shared by those in the neighborhood, presented not just for those in the community but for everyone.

"It's a cultural festival," Harris said. "Art, music dance, food. It's not a black thing. It's an important thing."

Chief Baba Shongo Obadina has been the driving force behind the African Village Arts Festival since day one.

"The festival is something that has gotten bigger and bigger and reached a lot of people," he said.

An elder in the community and one of the founders both of the idea of African Village and of the festival, Obadina launched the festival in 2006 under the auspices of the William H. Thomas Gallery, which he owns, and the Central Community House, on whose board he sits.

"It's a partnership between the gallery and Central Community House," Harris said. "Since day one, this is something they do together."

"It takes a lot of collaborative effort," Central Community House Director Pam McCarthy said. "[Obadina] has always worked with our kids in the community with art, and he helped get the Kwanzaa Playground going. So it made sense to us to help host the festival, to do something that has a neighborhood feel to it and that is culturally relevant.

"There is a very strong commonality in our missions."

Obadina has gone to great lengths to ensure the festival happens, often funding the event out of his personal finances. When a grant to help fund the event didn't come through last year, the festival didn't happen.

"Sometimes we've been at somewhat of a disadvantage," he said. "A lot of energy has been spent to get this one to happen."

"We held an 'Honoring Our Elders' fundraiser to bring awareness and help fund bringing the festival back," Harris said.

The bulk of the festival will be held Saturday, featuring arts and crafts, free workshops, live entertainment and food trucks.

A marketplace will feature vendors offering clothing, jewelry, folk art, fabric art and personal care items. Workshop will include West African dance, belly dancing, tie dye art, henna painting and voice coaching. Baba Jubal Harris will lead a drum-making workshop followed by a community drum circle at 2:30 p.m. Throughout the day, guests will be invited to help make a community mural facilitated by Tau Murphy.

Main stage entertainment will include music by Roger Parish, Boogie Driven, Agape, Joe McCaskill and more. Poetry and dance will also be featured on the main stage schedule.

The William H. Thomas Gallery will host events on Friday and Sunday to open and close the festival.

An open mic night will be held from 8-10 p.m. on Friday. A Sunday gallery reception will feature "Images from the Homeland," a collection of photographs by Harris from a visit to the Oyotunji African Village, a community in South Carolina. In addition to the art, Your Grace, Queen of Oyotunji Village, will be on hand to "share her wisdom and knowledge," Obadina said.