CLEWISTON -- The long-awaited Brown Sugar Festival is returning to Clewiston this year after a hiatus in 2022.
Continuing the tradition of bringing friends and families together, Festival Interim President Rev. Gwen Patrick Griffiths said that on Friday, May 5, starting at 9 p.m., the Ole Skool Bash banquet and dance will be held at the Harlem Cultural and Civic Center located at 7th Street in Clewiston for anyone who attended a Clewiston school. Disc Jockey Skinny McMillian will be providing the musical venue.
On Saturday, May 6, the Brown Sugar Festival will kick off with a parade at 10 a.m. starting at the Harlem Civic Center and ending at Pavilion Park where there will be food, entertainment and activities.
Brown Sugar Festival Executive Board Member Al Gary coordinated the entertainment that will take place following the parade at Pavilion Park.
Musical performances will start at 6 p.m. at the park with previous headliner rhythm and blues band Young Soul returning for a second time, he said.
Altogether six gospel singers and 15 rhythm and blues bands are scheduled.
The Brown Sugar Queen will make her debut at the festival. The pageant took place on May 1.
A teen dance and after party will be held at the civic center gym on May 6. On Sunday, May 7, there will be a kickball tournament on the baseball field.
For the past 44 years the popular festival has been held on the first Saturday in May each year and attracts hundreds of people, Griffiths said. It is a time for families to gather and celebrate the community’s African heritage.
She said the community has been building excitement over the upcoming festival for the past year, saving their money to spend there.
“Nobody knew if it was on or off for a long time,” she said. “People were holding on to their money for Brown Sugar.”
“Everyone who can help, helped,” she said of the hard work volunteers put forth to organize and plan the festival.
In addition to the Brown Sugar Festival Pageant, a fish tournament was held on April 29.