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Black History Month to be celebrated with a full slate of activities and events

A night of honor, a ‘traveling’ wreath-laying ceremony and a ‘funky’ fashionista is just part of what you can expect to see inside this weekend’s 17th Annual Phoenix Affaire RISE! Weekend closing out local observances of National Black History Month.

The RISE! Weekend officially opens this Friday, February 22 with a Community VIP Reception & Awards Night inside the Jimmy Harrell Gallery at the Firehouse Arts Center.  The night will also feature a ‘pop-up’ local black history exhibit. Advance tickets are $15; $20 at the door.  Doors open at 6 p.m.

The organization’s first-ever “traveling” wreath-laying ceremony makes it’s final stop inside Willis Park on the Square in historic downtown Bainbridge on Saturday, February 23 at 10 a.m. after previous stops in nearby Colquitt and Donalsonville paying tribute to African-American (and all) local war veterans.  Meanwhile, the group’s annual BHM Community Entrepreneurs Sidewalk Sale & Farmers’ Market will already be underway along a historic stretch of N. Broad Street, between Market Street and MLK Jr. Dr.,  in the heart of what was historically a thriving black business district of downtown Bainbridge during the 1960s and ‘70s.  “We’re just hopeful to evoke the spirit, especially this month, of what this area use to represent and mean to so many local black residents back in the day”, says Rahn d. Fudge, RISE! Weekend Executive Producer of San Francisco, Calif., and 1979 graduate of Bainbridge High School.  This once-a-year opportunity to encourage and support local black business entrepreneurship is free and open to the public.

Later Saturday, the organization’s ‘signature’ event which started it all back in 1981, the BHM Phoenix Affaire fashion-theatre and supper club show, takes place in the upstairs Callahan Room of the Firehouse Arts Center.  Tickets are $25, advance; $30 at the door and include a three-course dinner.  Fashion show tickets also include admission into Friday’s opening night event.  Doors open at 6:00 pm.

The weekend closes on Sunday, February 24 with a ‘Gospel in the Park’ & Black Healthcare Awareness Day inside Willis Park from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (weather permitting).  Local choirs, singers and black gospel bands from throughout the local region will fill the air with sounds of joy.  A first time ‘Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Hat Parade’ and competition will also take place with the lucky winner chosen by audience applause.  The public is invited to compete.  Organizers also invite those attending ‘Gospel in the Park’ to bring their picnic baskets and blankets as this is a lawn and family-friendly event.  An emphasis on black healthcare concerns will bring an area nurses’ team to the park to promote the importance and benefits of staying healthy and to reiterate crucial steps African-Americans must take to live longer, healthier lives – both physically and mentally.

For more information or to volunteer and support, please call 229-205-0218 (Betty) or email:


TIME TO RISE: The Phoenix Affaire RISE! annual “Emerge!” event comes to town at high noon Thursday, February 21 (weather permitting) in local celebration of National Black History Month and paying tribute to local fallen African-American war heroes now as part of a special “traveling wreath-laying ceremony” for local veterans in Donalsonville, Colquitt and Bainbridge.  Seminole County is second on the mobile wreath laying ceremony, scheduled behind Colquitt.  The Donalsonville wreath-laying ceremony will be immediately followed by a VIP Veterans and Black Business Owners’ Awards Reception at the Beall Center in historic downtown Donalsonville. The event is free and open to the public.

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