Pensacola, FL

On April 20 and 21, 2013, residents of and visitors to the “City of Five Flags” (Spanish. French, British, Confederate, and US) celebrated the third annual Estevanico Festival. This year it moved downtown to the Plaza de Luna on the waterfront. In spite of strong winds, artists and vendors showcased their talents and skills to all who came over the two days. Among those participating in the festival were a Native American storyteller/flutist Marcia Johnston (Buffalo Woman), Kinfolk – a brass band of young musicians from New Orleans, poet Ty Gray-El, and portrait artist Roberto, originally from the southwest region of this country.

The festival began on Saturday with the presentation of the flag, a prayer, and a communal libation for ancestors. On the previous Friday evening, a book signing and reception were held at Gumbo Gallery; the owner and artist, Sonya Evans, is a principal organizer of the festival. She, along with Gene Franklin, director of the National Cultural heritage Tourism Center, was instrumental to the success of the festival.

Pensacola vies with St. Augustine for designation as the oldest European/African settlement in the United States. As Florida celebrates 500 years of its history based upon the discovery of land by Ponce de Leon in 1513, this festival becomes even more important since it has been documented that an African, Estevanico, was part of the 1527 landing expedition in the Pensacola area.

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