Dover’s African American Festival powers on despite weather

By Kirit Minhas

DOVER — Despite cloudy skies, intermittent rain, and a smaller crowd than previous years, organizers from Dover’s Inner City Cultural League hosted the annual Positively Dover African American Festival on Legislative Mall Saturday with an aura of upbeat and energetic celebration.

This is the third year in a row that festivities have had to be held on a smaller scale due to the pandemic, but former Dover City Councilman Reuben Salters, who co-founded the festival three decades ago, remained happy with the turnout as he balanced ongoing COVID concerns.

“We have been deliberate in keeping it small because of the pandemic. We don’t want a lot of people, and if you notice, I have my mask,” said Mr. Salters early in the day. “We’re pleased with the crowd, and there will be more people. They will show up for the main events. This is just the beginning.”

Live music performances kept energy high as community members flowed in and out of the mall area, stopping at stalls representing several local organizations and businesses. Many people held plates from the food trucks and vendors which dotted the streets surrounding the mall, selling everything from funnel cake to fried fish.

Dover’s Jeanette Dixon has been coming to the festival for several years. For her, it presents a meaningful opportunity to engage with her community and her heritage

“I’ve been coming for at least eight years, and it means getting to see vendors, and understanding my culture, supporting Mr. Salters in his endeavor, trying to keep it positive and keep it going,” Ms. Dixon said.

“Over the years, the festival has had an impact in terms of helping with information for housing, food, other little things in this vicinity.”

Loida Hopkins is a downtown Dover resident who ran a stand for her healthy adobo spice blend, Spanglish. This year was her first at the festival, and her enthusiasm ran high.

“I’m really excited to be here,” said Ms. Hopkins. “What it means for me to be here is I just get to connect with more people. I get to get more culture, more history, get ingrained with the people that are here, and being able to empower people to eat consciously, which is our mission.”

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