NBTF wraps up record-setting week

NBTF wraps up record-setting week
August 13
00:00 2015

In above photo: Celebrities and festival-goers march through the streets of downtown Winston-Salem during the NBTF closing parade on Saturday, Aug. 8. (Photo by Tevin Stinson)

Parade through downtown Winston-Salem marks the end of the 2015 Festival

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle

The 2015 National Black Theatre Festival ended a record-breaking week with a star-studded parade last Saturday night, Aug. 8.

According to festival officials, this year’s festival had several sold-out shows and productions.

This year’s festival also saw a significant increase in online tickets sales.

“We had a number of productions sell out before the festival even started,” said Brian McLaughlin, media relations director for the festival. “A number of our workshops and other events were sold out as well.”

The parade, which marked the end of the weeklong festival, started in front of the Marriott Hotel, 425 North Cherry St., and ended at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ Stevens Center, 405 Fourth St., also known as Larry Leon Hamlin Way.

After reaching the Stevens Center, officials from the festival took time to remember those who helped organize the festival in the past who have passed away, including Larry Leon Hamlin.

He created the festival and passed away in 2007.

Dr. Sopé Oyèláràn, head of the International Colloquium portion of the festival, poured water in remembrance of all those who have passed away.

He said he used water because the body is 75 percent water and it is what we need to survive.

Those in the crowd were asked to say the names of their lost loved ones as well.

“This water will help the spirits of our lost loved ones live on forever,” Oyèláràn said.

As a crowd stood around Oyèláràn in front of the Stevens Center, he also talked about how much the festival has grown over the years.

“Look around. Two years ago there wasn’t this many people out here,” Oyèláràn said. “This ritual we are doing here today is to keep the positive spirits around this festival so it may continue to grow and prosper.”

During the parade streets were blocked off by the Winston-Salem Police Department as entertainers with African drums and dances marched through streets.

The sidewalks were filled with festival-goers hoping to catch a glance of their favorite celebrities or try their luck at getting a picture of the stilt walker as he towered over the crowd walking the downtown streets.

James Taylor, a regular festival-goer from South Carolina, said the festival continues to get better every year.

“This is my third or fourth time attending the festival,” said Taylor. “Every year I come, it seems to get better and better. This year’s festival is the best I’ve seen so far.”

The National Black Theatre Festival descends upon Winston-Salem every two years and has more than a $13 million impact on the economy in the city.

Since 1989, the festival has attracted thousands of national and international patrons, theatre professionals and scholars to the area.

The National Black Theatre Festival is the outreach program of the N.C. Black Repertory Company and was named one of the top 20 events in the South, according to the Southeast Tourism Society.

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