The Midwest Regional Sweet And NaturalFest

When we talk about doing it for the culture, I found out exactly just what that meant this past Sunday.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Washington Park, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the Midwest Sweet and Naturalfest. Prior to Facebook, I hadn’t heard of  this festival, so I was pretty pumped about checking out this unique event with such a sweet name.  (see what I did there?)

 

Free to the public, this festival was hosted at the freshly revitalized Washington Park in Cincinnati, Oh. I entered pretty early to see many vendors, demonstrators, and performers getting ready to make this day amazing. The weather was absolutely perfect and because of the location of the park, many people who were just passing through joined in on the beautiful spring fun!

First, the patrons were beautiful! I mean all the natural styles one could handle is in one place! Short cuts, big and curly, wash and go, the strong Dora Milaje look, dreads, and just anything else you can think of.  The patrons loved the event, what it stood for, and the fact that we had a little black wall street here in Cincinnati.  I walked upon a mother and her daughters taking pictures of her fiery red hair in all it’s glory. She was so comfortable at the festival because she could unleash her big and proud hair at a festival that was meant to encourage our natural and sweet sides.

 

There were amazing acts and demonstrations located throughout the park and ready for the whole family to participate. An excellent Reggae band rocked the park, while barbers and hair stylists showcased their signature styling designs, products, and skills to passersby.

I felt a little out of place because I should have gone big and natural too! This was the perfect home for it because many vendors offered all natural products for black natural hair. I purchased a moisture cream from Yaphep for my twist and go, and the consistency is amazing!! She also boasts that you can use the cream for your skin as well, which I love because I’m super simple. (and lazy too. Sue me.)  I took the cream home to use for my twist out and baby, it was AMAZING! Definitely will be buying from her again! There were several other vendors who provided quality hair and skin care products, all made from natural products with the natural gal (or guy) in mind. Great small businesses who weren't just about the almighty dollar, but the actual natural ingredients that goes into their carefully crafted products.

 

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Next, you know big girl had to try the food. :) OMG, there were some delicious sweets, treats, and great eats! There was a food truck that made a really great salad with the bomb vinaigrette dressing!   You could add chicken, shrimp, and some other toppings to this delicious mouth watering goodness! Ohh and I cannot forget to give a shout out to Urban Flo Kitchen that had this strawberry jalapeno jam on lock! I took that bottle home and finished it within a week. (I'm so ashamed of myself, but it was soooo good!

We gotta talk about the festival gear! We had vendors who made clothes and head wraps from beautiful kente cloths and rich fabrics for unique, one of a kind items. These creatives showcased their talents and even had colorful stories to accompany the pieces that were on display.  There was even a demonstration on how to create the perfect head wrap, so you too can get your Erykah Badu on.

As I moved on, I was able to visit some of the beautiful fellow jewelry vendors who had some beautiful African inspired items. I purchased a pair of “Black Girls Rock” earrings because, well I do super rock! That, and I wanted to bring a gift to one of the young girls I mentor. It’s important for her to know what she sees in the mirror is beautiful and unstoppable, and this festival would have helped to reinforce it. We often speak about the importance of imagery and how powerful imagery can truly be. To be in a location with so many black business owners brought a sense of unspoken pride. The kind where you look them in the eyes, cock your head to the side, ball your fist up and pull it close to your mouth and just think in your head, “I see  you boo!” 

 

But not only does this reinforce a strong image, we see small business owners come out and share their talents with the community and the world. Sometimes it is hard for small businesses to get ahead because people are so focused on top brands and what everyone else is wearing that the true backbone of our country, which are small businesses, are overlooked and unappreciated. This event allowed those businesses to come together and create a safe and fun atmosphere full of loving bonds and ingenuity.

 

The Sweet and Naturalfest was led by Daphney Thomas, who is the founder and creative director for this event. She launched this festival with the intent to promote "economic mobility, collectivity, and admiration for ethnic beauty in a family friendly and very vibrant atmosphere" states Thomas.  Tiffany Ware was also very pivotal to pulling off an amazing event by providing PR and Marketing for the event. She also coordinated and managed the beauty lounge/beard bar that was running during the event.  Ware is the founder of The Brown Girls Project which was "developed to celebrate, uplift, encourage and inspire a specific segment of black women and girls who are normally invisible or even dismissed by mainstream media and oftentimes our own community." Last but definitely not least, Therri Payne was the great gift coordinator. She was responsible for the awesome hair goodies in our free swag bags that were given during the event. 

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All it takes is a dream to start something remarkable and with the Sweet and Naturalfest, I hope to continue to see this remarkable event every year!

 

Thanks to Tiffany Ware for the invite! Please support this amazing festival by checking out their webpage

 

Check out pics from the day of the event below and click to cycle through the pics! YouTube vid to follow shortly!