The Overtown Music & Arts Festival (OMAF) is an annual free festival that showcases the work of R&B artists. The festival also promotes economic development and celebrates the Overtown community. The summer event includes food, artwork, and performances by A-list recording artists.
Overtown is a predominantly black community that was originally called "Colored Town." By the early 20th century, Colored Town started to blossom. It boasted high-quality doctor and law offices, tailors, restaurants, and other establishments.
It also started to become a tourist destination for entertainment, with people (both black and white) visiting from across the country. Attractions included exotic food and gospel music.
Overtown was dubbed “Miami’s Little Broadway” and was a first-rate entertainment scene that rivaled Harlem's nightlife. Artists who frequented Overtown included Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday.
Today the Overtown Music and Arts Festival mainly features R&B artists, though there are Latin artists as well. Past artists include Ginuwine, Ne-Yo, and Mario. Ceelo Green and Keyshia Cole have also performed.
In addition to music, the festival has art exhibitions and art for sale. For example, in 2019, an installation called "Thirty Crowns" was an interactive historical exhibit that showcased the achievement of prominent individuals in science, art, entrepreneurship, music, and more. Paintings, photography, ceramics, and jewelry created by local artists are also on display.
The festival offers an impressive amount of food vendors. There's a lot of comfort food, so get ready for ribs, mac and cheese, and corn on the cob. Vegans might want to plan ahead.
Your children can also be entertained while you focus on the music. They have a zone for kids, which includes activities like cooking, arts and crafts, and fitness.
Cover image courtesy of OMAF.