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An African Extravaganza

This year's Los Angeles African Marketplace & Cultural Faire highlights the continent's influence on South American, Caribbean and Mexican art and culture.

August 23, 2000

Looking beyond the shores of Africa, this year's Los Angeles African Marketplace & Cultural Faire celebrates Africa's impact on South American, Caribbean and Mexican art and culture. Called "A Millennial Celebration of the African-Spanish Legacy," the 15th annual event features more than 200 arts-and-crafts vendors and will showcase Jamaican, Brazilian and Mexican culture, among others, with performances as diverse as Sephardic Jew flamenco dancers, an Aztec dance troupe and Australian aborigine dancers.

And, of course, there will be plenty of the traditional African goods and performances, with representation from Cameroon to Zimbabwe.

The fair, which kicked off over the weekend with about 50,000 visitors and continues this weekend and next, features six stages for a broad range of music, dance, drama and poetry performances, including a Native American powwow.

"We've always featured a powwow, because the African slaves intermingled with the Native American tribes and helped settle the western part of the states. Lots of those descendants are now active in the powwows," said festival spokeswoman Jeanne Taylor.

It takes a village to entertain a child, and this year's kids' activities include mask making, a petting zoo, rides and giveaways. Visitors can take a break in the Medicine Tree & Holistic Village, then move on to the technology pavilion and trade and travel expo.

The fair fills a 10-acre site at Rancho Cienega Park, 5001 Rodeo Road, in L.A.'s Crenshaw District. The lineup Saturday and Sunday includes a dance festival and Sept. 2-4 features Latin jazz, Brazilian jazz and a reggae festival. "The Brazilian festival is a biggie because there's so much African influence in Brazilian culture," Taylor said.

Festival hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information, call (213) 847-1540.

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