The AFRAM Festival, Baltimore’s annual celebration of African-American culture, will return to its two-day format in August at Druid Hill Park.
Entering its 42nd year, the free festival will take place noon-8 p.m. Aug. 11 and noon-6 p.m. Aug. 12, said Tonya Miller, senior director of public affairs for Mayor Catherine Pugh.
It will be the second year in a row that Druid Hill Park hosts the event and the mayor’s office produces it.
Before last year’s festival, AFRAM was held over two days at the parking lots by Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. Known for attracting crowds as large as 200,000 in the past, the event was scaled down to one day at Druid Hill Park as a cost-saving measure, Pugh said last year. The 2017 festival drew 3,000 to 4,000 attendees.
“A two-day event just got to be too expensive for the city,” Pugh said in May 2017.
In 2016, greiBO Entertainment of Baltimore was paid $535,000 to produce the festival. The city spent approximately $200,000 on AFRAM last year. Miller said the mayor’s office considered hiring a production company this year, but “from a cost perspective, it didn’t shake out.”
Each year, one of the main draws of AFRAM is the music lineup. Before 2017, headliners included national acts like Common, Brandy and Patti LaBelle, among others. Local rappers Tate Kobang and YBS Skola were the headliners last year.
Miller declined to name this year’s headlining artist, but said she believes the act’s popularity will increase attendance.
“All of this is driven by who’s performing. Hopefully we got it right this time in terms of talent,” Miller said. “I think based on the talent we booked, the millennials will be really excited about it.”
The artist could announce the performance as early as this weekend, she said.
So far, little information has been made public about the festival. (The festival’s website from 2017, afram.baltimorecity.gov, redirects to the mayor’s office’s website.) Miller said that’s been mostly by design.
“We wanted to drop it like Beyoncé online [without warning] and let a groundswell happen,” Miller said.
Before any rumors could hit social media, Miller quickly clarified her simile.
“It’s not Beyoncé, though,” she said.
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