Featuring celebrity performers, live music, African food, and a celebration of independence, Best of Africa Food Store is hosting Festival Independence this weekend Friday, July 1st through Sunday, July 3rd. The event will be outside in the back lot behind the Urbana grocery from noon until 11 p.m. at night.

The owner Memoire Budimbu is a Congolese immigrant who has a vision to bring everyone together.

"I hope this festival brings everyone together: Asian, African, American...When I was little, I would sing Michael Jackson. I didn't know English, but I knew Michael Jackson. Because of the culture, people know reggae from Jamaica, but most do not speak Jamaican.

Maybe next time, this [festival] can happen in the big stadium at the U of I, inviting famous artists from America, Europe, Africa, Asia, everywhere in the world, just celebrating together. We can show our culture by food, by clothes, by books, by music. It's very important, especially for the next generation."

Festival Independence is a family-friendly event, and kids under 10 are free. Guests 10+ years of age can purchase a $15 ticket online here or at the door. Adult beverages, soda, and African food will be available for purchase at the event. Festival Independence has no sponsors and is hosted only by Best of Africa Food Store.

Festival Independence will host Celeo Scram, a Congolese singer and rapper, who is flying in from France to perform in addition to many other performers.

Best of Africa Food Store
208 W Griggs St
11 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.