In its 13th year, the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival is moving to a beat everyone can enjoy.
The event, which kicked off Thursday, is under way for a 10-day celebration of history, culture and pure enjoyment in the heart of the city. It ends on Jan. 26.
Organizers praise the annual cultural event is an opportunity to increase awareness of black culture and heritage. It also strives to promote diversity and cultural sensitivity.
"Anyone can be a part of the festival," said Ersula Odom, a member of the festival's program committee.
The festival is a family-friendly affair with mostly free events that are open to the public.
Starting with a gala tonight and ending with a bus tour of black-owned businesses on Jan. 26, the fest will feature an array of speakers, musicians, artists, poets and craftspeople in observance of the African American experience.
There will be a 5K walk, with registration at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa.
After the health walk, there will be an "old school" street festival with food vendors and entertainment from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the park. It will feature a music fest with artists such as Con Funk Shun, Klymax and American Idol finalist DeAndre Brackensick.
The schedule of events includes the seventh annual Heritage Golf Classic at the Quail Hollow Golf Course in Wesley Chapel, a skate party, MLK Leadership breakfasts in Tampa and Plant City, a gospel jazz fest, a black girls ROCK party.
For a complete list of events, visit www.tampablackheritage.org.
The Tampa Tribune is a sponsor of the heritage festival.