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African American Culture to Be Celebrated at Philipsburg Manor’s Pinkster Festival

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By Anna Carpinelli

The annual Pinkster Festival will return this Saturday to Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow. It is the longest-running Pinkster Festival in North America, having first been held in 1977.

For 47 years, Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow has hosted the Pinkster Festival, a celebration of the perseverance of African American culture during enslavement.

This Saturday, May 25, guests can expect something a little different. Malik Work, the event’s curator, has created a multimedia experience highlighting Black talent and culture while continuing to pay homage to the enslaved individuals of the Hudson Valley.

Formerly a Dutch celebration of the coming of spring, Pinkster was one of the few times that enslaved people of African descent had the opportunity to reunite and celebrate with their loved ones. Over several days, they gathered to play music, dance and enjoy each other’s company. As the celebration was filled with African culture, Pinkster became an African American holiday.

Previously home to 23 enslaved African Americans, Philipsburg Manor has become the site of Historic Hudson Valley’s annual Pinkster festival. In past years, the festival focused on telling the story of Black life during enslavement through historical reenactment. However, more recently, the festival has been redefined.

Dr. Elizabeth Bradley, vice president of programs and engagement for Historic Hudson Valley, said now the event looks to honor the past while showcasing modern-day transformations of African American culture.

“Ours is different from other Pinkster celebrations,” Bradley said. “A lot are rooted in history; it’s where we came from, it’s a beautiful expression of African culture. But we just feel there’s so much more, and so many new ways to connect to contemporary audiences.”

The festival, which was started by the educational nonprofit organization Historic Hudson Valley in 1977 and is the longest-running event of its kind in North America, will include a variety of performances chosen by Work, a diverse artist and self-proclaimed Western griot, who will also deliver spoken word and musical performances.

Malik Work, the curator of Historic Hudson Valley’s Pinkster Festival, which will be held this Saturday at Philipsburg Manor.

When asked about the performers, Work highlighted Yacouba Sissoko, a 70th-generation Malian djeli – a West African storyteller – who transforms cultural stories into musical performances through the accompaniment of his kora, and Nichole Washington, a visual artist whose work features Adinkra symbols from West Africa. Washington’s art, Work said, is a conversation between the past and present and a demonstration of how the past informs the future.

The festival will also feature open hearth cooking by Chef Apa, who will create a feast of thematic food from the Hudson Valley intertwined with the history of the enslaved people in the greater New York region.

“It’s this combination of food education and food history,” Work said regarding the feast.

At this year’s event, guests can enjoy a variety of food choices from BIPOC-owned vendors based in the Hudson Valley, including Bazodee Street Foods and Kinwich.

There will also be opportunities to handmake authentic items such as Adinkra stamps, flower crowns and drums and to contribute to a participatory piece by Nichole Washington.

Above all, Bradley and Work agreed the Pinkster Festival should be a celebration for the community.

“See it as an opportunity to celebrate springtime, to celebrate Black culture, whatever being festive means to people,” Bradley said. “Since we’ve reinterpreted the event, we look for people to celebrate themselves and their own identities, as well as coming out to see the performances.”

“The Pinkster Festival: Remembering the Past and Reimagining the Future” will be celebrated on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and young adults 18 to 25 years old and free for children 17 and under and for Historic Hudson Valley members.

Philipsburg Manor is located at 381 N. Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow. For more information about the festival and Historic Hudson Valley, visit




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