Magazine article Black Enterprise

A Literary Sojourn

Magazine article Black Enterprise

A Literary Sojourn

Article excerpt

Fluttering multicolored flags inscribed with the name "Zora!" line both sides of East Kennedy Boulevard in Eatonville, Fla. They are the first welcome signs for those attending the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival for the Arts and Humanities. For the past five years, during the last week of january, this bedroom community--10 miles north of downtown Orlando--has been transformed into a retreat for zealots of the late anthropologist, folklorist and writer. Participants gather for a mix of folk talk, laughs, and a chance to take part in workshops and lectures exploring Hurston's life and works.

"It's kind of like being in a Zora Neale Hurston universe," says Phyllis Perry, an Atlanta writer and artist who attends annually. "Most festivals have some kind of itinerary," adds Perry. "But I feel perfectly comfortable wandering around looking at the places where Zora lived or taught, and talking to people that she knew." Bold and outspoken, Hurston traveled through the South and the Caribbean, documenting the lifestyles of African-Americans. She collected songs, folk tales, fables, religious rituals and stories during the Harlem Renaissance.

Just as vacations with a cultural component are catching on, visitors to the Orlando area can now look forward to more than Disney World. The Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, open year-round, serves as festival headquarters. Most events are held at the Wymore Career Education Center. A grassy lot beside the center is the site for a street festival featuring hundreds of vendors; it bubbles with the excitement of an African marketplace. …

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