Music Festivals

Five Reasons to Attend Overtown Music & Arts Festival

Overtown is where the party's at.
Overtown is where the party's at. Amadeus McCaskill

Overtown has a proud history as the celebrated center of Miami's African-American community. Some of the 20th Century's most beloved performers played in Overtown, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Aretha Franklin. To honor that acclaimed musical history while bringing new eyes to the neighborhood, the sixth annual Overtown Music & Arts Festival will be held Saturday, July 13. Here are five reasons why you should make sure to attend.
click to enlarge AMADEUS MCCASKILL
Amadeus McCaskill

The music lineup is fire. Over its short six-year existence, the Overtown Music & Arts Festival has hosted heavy hitters like Estelle, Ginuwine, and CeeLo Green. This year's performers are just as exciting, with singer-songwriters Ne-Yo and Melanie Fiona, R&B quartet Jagged Edge, and mambo royalty Tito Puente Jr. all scheduled to take the main stage amongst a baker's dozen of musical acts ready to serenade you.

There's art everywhere. Visitors tend to focus more on the music than the arts in the title of this Overtown fest. But you're missing out if you don't walk around the Art Expo Zone, where paintings, photography, multidimensional mixed-media works, pottery, and handcrafted jewelry by local artists will all be on display.  Also worth your time is the history exhibit "Thirty Crowns" by Danielle Myers, which features "30 prominent individuals whose contributions stretch through entrepreneurship, athletics, science, the arts, politics, and more," according to festival organizers. The exhibition explains each person’s significance through engaging, interactive elements.

Come hungry. Walking around Miami in the July heat will build up your appetite. Overtown Music & Arts Festival has curated a wide variety of local food trucks and vendors to make certain you don't lose any weight on your Saturday sojourn. They promise an eclectic variety of "BBQ, ethnic, and vegan options fit for any and all guests."
click to enlarge AMADEUS MCCASKILL
Amadeus McCaskill

No babysitter required. This festival was organized with little ones in mind. Kids will have their own section with the TEES (Teens Exercising Extraordinary Success) Youth Zone. There are four "villages" in the TEES Youth Zone including an Entrepreneur Village, an Arts & Crafts Village where kids can make slime and "chalk the block," a Toddler's Village, and What's Cooking Village, where kids can learn how to prepare quick, healthy meal options like chicken stir fry with brown rice and fried chicken sushi rolls.

It's all free. OK, you'll have to shell out some cash if you want to buy lunch or take home a piece of artisan-made jewelry. But the musical performances, art exhibit, kids' zone, and festival-wide joyful ambiance are all free of charge. Hey, times are tough, so it's especially nice to take your family to an event in your city that won't cost you a dime to attend.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly included bounce houses in its description of kids' attractions at Overtown Music & Arts Festival. There are no bounce houses this year.

Overtown Music & Arts Festival. 11 a.m. Saturday, July 13; NW Second and Third Avenues between NW Eighth and Tenth Streets, Miami; 786-529-4586; Admission is free.
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland