Friday, February 5, 2010

Annual ZORA! Festival draws thousands to Eatonville

EATONVILLE – Zora Neale Hurston died 50 years ago, but her spirit and writings continue to be paramount for this small African-American community north of downtown Orlando.

As she had done decades earlier, fans of the dominant Harlem Renaissance author strolled down Eatonville's main street on Saturday to absorb the rich culture of the country's first incorporated all-black town, which Hurston often described in her novels. Cultural and art enthusiasts visited the town to honor the author and other black artists and scholars during the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities – ZORA! Festival.

The event makes history real, said Sharahn Slack of Orlando. She played the abolitionist Harriett Tubman in a skit outside the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church to encourage people, particularly youth, to pursue their dreams and celebrate their community – messages she says Hurston spread through her work.

"History is something to be celebrated rather than learned. When you celebrate history, it becomes personal," Slack, 16, said.

The three-day Outdoor Festival of the Arts, which wraps up today, is the conclusion of ZORA! Festival. It draws thousands of visitors from all over the U.S. and overseas each year. Event organizers estimate 250,000 people will attend this year's event.,0,248500.story
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