Clothing in colorful African prints swayed on hangers as the notes from a Ghanaian band pulsed across the Frederick Fairgrounds on Sunday.
Myriad scents wafted over dozens of people waiting outside a Ghanaian food truck. A chalk board sign read, “Welcome/Akwaba.”
Hundreds of people gathered for the celebration of African cuisine, music and culture, dubbed the DMV Party in the Park. Event founder Charles Adu Koranteng, owner of Starbuzz Media, said he wanted to give people a chance to socialize and promote business after being indoors for so much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The musical lineup featured local artists, but also some who traveled from countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.
Ghanaian music duo TooWan8 brought the energy, moving in a constant flurry. Purple lights flashed above the stage as the crowd jumped up and down. Some listeners mouthed the lyrics. Those standing close to the speakers felt the thump of bass deep in their chests.
On the opposite side of the grassy field, Delight Dzansi sold African print clothing, waist beads and fans. The latter were the most popular on the hot and sunny afternoon, she said. Many event attendees waved Dzansi’s fans in their faces as they sat on blankets or in chairs, watching performers.
Dzansi started her online clothing company, alkeBULAN, about two years ago. She moved from Ghana at 10 years old and returns there annually for mission trips with her church. Lately, she has also used that time to meet with chiefs and elders to educate herself about African prints. Different colors have meaning, she said, like how the green in the kente pattern represents green pastures.
Dzansi donned a fitted blue, white and purply-pink dress with puffy sleeves. She can’t pick her favorite print, though.
“That’s like choosing between my kids,” Dzansi gasped.
Beside Dzansi’s tent, a pair of sisters with Ghanaian roots sold candles and baby clothing.
Tracy Kwakye offered an array of scents from IN2ME Candles, while her sister Jennifer Loper sold baby onesies with African prints and symbols.
It’s not difficult for Loper to remember when she started her business, BabifyMe.
“She was my model,” Loper said, gesturing to her 5-year-old daughter Camille.
When Camille was little, Loper wanted to dress her in African print onesies. Then Loper realized others might want the same clothing, and the business idea was born.
Across the field, nonprofit Ghana Girls Connect hoped to raise funds to benefit young girls in Ghana.
Treasurer Milan Tackie said they bring laptops, clothing and sanitary products to girls in Ghana. She’s visited about six years in a row.
“They’re always so excited,” Tackie said.
Many children have to work to support their families in Ghana, according to Tackie, and they are not able to pursue their dreams.
“There’s a lot of unactualized potential and talent,” Tackie said.
As the sun began to cast long shadows on the evening’s event, one artist after another jumped on the stage to perform. Vehicles continued to pull in as newcomers arrived to buy tickets. Adu Koranteng estimated they sold 500 tickets in advance and about 200 at the door as of about 6 p.m. He wants the event to be held annually.
“It’s going to be a summer celebration,” he said. “The first of many.”
Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller