The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 S. Main St., invites the community to learn more about the area’s cultural heritage during the 2019 Crossroad Festival Friday through Sunday, March 1-3.
The events are free and open to the public and families are encouraged to attend.
The multi-program event explores Jefferson County and Southeast Arkansas’ cultural heritage through the interpretive lens of story, music, foodways and film, according to a news release.
This year’s event will feature programming on the African-American, French and Chinese communities’ regional cultural heritage, according to the release.
“It’s not a festival in the contemporary sense with food and product vendors,” said ASC Executive Director Rachel Miller. “Instead, it’s a celebration.”
Friday, March 1, 7-9 p.m. Tricksters, Tall Tales, and Blues Notes — This program incorporates African-American folktales and slave narratives into an interpretative performance involving musicians and actors from the community, according to the news release.
“The Greater Jefferson County area includes some of the most poignant and expansive repositories of African-American folklore and folk music in Arkansas and the Delta region. This year’s festival kicks off with a night of lore, music and interpretation highlighting the powerful folklore and music sounds emanating from African-American culture with Greater Jefferson County ties. Jimmy Cunningham Jr., executive director of the Delta Rhythm & Blues Bayous Alliance, writes and directs this program featuring regional actors and musicians,” according to the release.
Saturday, March 2, Folktales & Foodways Family Fun — This segment includes two family programs featuring folklore and food, with hands-on activities.
March 2 — 10-11:30 a.m.: Heritage Studies and Living History Interpretation scholar Elista Istre will facilitate Folktales Family Fun — a family storytelling, hands-on program. She will share traditional French Creole stories of the characters of Bouki (a fox) and Lapin (a rabbit), which are similar to the “Brer Rabbit” tales. She will also explore the links between West Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South. The program will include a craft workshop in which the children can make a mask of Bouki or Lapin to take home with them.
March 2 — 1-3 p.m.: Elista Istre and Food Studies and Material Culture scholar Kevin Kim will expand the festival theme of cultural diffusion and adaption by co-presenting Foodways & Tales. The program will provide a historical context for the foodways of South Louisiana’s Creole people, and Southeast Arkansas’ Cantonese communities, and address how both cultures have negotiated the fine lines between assimilation and isolation within the larger mainstream American culture. Both scholars will share family stories and recipes. In a cooking demonstration, children from the Jefferson County 4-H Club will cook greens the Creole way to compare and contrast with how the Cantonese prepare greens as demonstrated by Kim.
A food truck will be on site from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. so visitors can have lunch between the programs.
Sunday, March 3, 1-3 p.m. — “The Adventures of Brer Rabbit” Screening and Q&A with Director/Animator Byron Vaughns —
Continuing the exploration of African-American folktales, ASC will close the 2019 festival with a screening of the 2006 animated Universal Pictures film “The Adventures of Brer Rabbit.”
A question-and-answer session will follow with the film’s director, Emmy Award-winning Byron Vaughns. A Pine Bluff native and a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Vaughns has worked on many classic animated television shows including “Alvin & the Chipmunks,” “The Smurfs” and “Tiny Toon Adventures.”
The 2019 Crossroad Festival is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and sponsorships by the Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission and Simmons Bank.
The Arts & Science Center is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and closed Sunday and Monday. Gallery admission is free.