By Stephen Weir
Although this will be the first year that Windsor will have an African/Caribbean outdoor downtown festival; WIDA FEST will have an experienced festival hand on the tiller. Chris Alexander, a long-time event organizer and former Chief Operating Officer of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, is now the festival’s vice-president and is assisting in getting the seven-day event off the ground.
WIDAFEST is the buzzword name for the Windsor International Diaspora African Festival, which is set to make its debut in the city from July 23rd to 30th. It will showcase the rich and diverse cultures of Africa and the Caribbean diaspora outdoors in downtown Windsor
“We are excited to be launching WIDAFEST along Windsor’s safe people-friendly Detroit River waterfront,” said Chris Alexander. “Windsor is a growing diverse city, and we plan to make this a popular annual event for the people of Windsor and Detroit.”
The festival will be held at the Riverfront Festival Plaza and will feature live performances from African musicians, dancers, and spoken word artists. Visitors can expect to see traditional African dances such as the Azonto, Kpanlogo, and Agbadza, as well as contemporary African music genres like Afrobeats and Highlife. Caribbean and Motown music are on the menu as well.
It all kicks off with a 5km walk and 10 km run alongside the Canadian side of the Detroit River on Sunday, July 23rd. The next day, Monday, July 24th, it is onto the links, with the WIDAFEST golf tournament.
Food vendors will also be on hand at most events, offering a variety of African and Caribbean cuisine, including at the Francophone Marketplace on Tuesday, July 25th, followed by the Anglophone Marketplace on Wednesday, both events are outside in the waterfront park across from the Windsor Casino.
There will be a comedy night and a business seminar on Thursday, and on Friday a drum festival followed by a Caribbean-style Jab Jab J’Ouvert Concert. And, of course, with Alexander involved, there will be a Saturday noon parade along Riverside Drive next to the waterfront with bands, costumes, and floats, followed by a music concert in the park.
The festival ends with a Gala Dinner Awards celebration on Sunday evening. Alexander says tickets are already available for it.
“We are proud to welcome WIDAFEST to our city and showcase the vibrant African community in Windsor,” said Drew Dilkens, Mayor of Windsor. “This festival is an excellent opportunity to celebrate diversity and promote cultural understanding and appreciation.”
With its debut in Windsor, WIDAFEST is set to become a highlight of the city’s annual summer festival season and a must-see event for anyone interested.