For the Culture KS celebrates Black culture in Topeka. Here’s what to know about festival.

A new festival celebrating Black culture and its history is coming up in Topeka.

For The Culture KS leaders are aiming to bring the state of Kansas together to celebrate the essence of African-American culture through music artists, creatives, impactful speakers, businesses, vendors and much more.

Rodney Hardmon, executive director of the festival, said an event like this is important because it gives representation and a sense of pride in not only the Black community of Topeka, but Kansas as well.

“We want to be that landmark. We want to be the place where the destination is Topeka to come celebrate African-American art,” Hardmon said. “We want to be known for that, and even if this takes off to other cities, we want it to be known that it started here in Topeka.”

Mackenzi Mondesir wants For The Culture KS — a weekend festival celebrating Topeka's African-American culture and history — to become an institution for the city.

Mackenzi Mondesir, fundraising director, said what makes the four-day celebration unique are the various components it will offer the community.

“It’s not just food and vendors and music,” he said. “It’s mental, physical health. It’s a business opportunity. It’s a historical bus tour, so we just wanted to make it different.”

What all can you expect at For The Culture?

Black Tie Gala

On Thursday at Townsite Plaza will be a Black Tie Gala with live music from DJ Top City and a night of elegance. Keynote speaker will be Maggie Anderson, the author of “Our Black Year.” A limited number of books will be available for purchase.

The Gala will also feature a musical performance from Justin Aaron, a Junction City native who was a semifinalist on season 22 of NBC’s hit show “The Voice.”

Hours: Festivities will be 5-11 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase for $125 per person or one table, seating 10 people for $1,000.

Festival Kick-Off

On Friday, Evergy Plaza will see vendors, food trucks, live poetry, live music from such local artists as Brandon Evans, Nailah Amirah, Jquory Guest and more entertainment.

Hours: Festival kick off will begin at 4 p.m. and is expected to end by 9 p.m.

Family Fun Day

Stretch into Family Fun Day with a yoga and fitness session directed by Misha Reed and Tevyn Harmon at the Evergy Plaza.

A health and business panel will follow with various business owners on the panel to provide insight on tips and lessons of running a successful business. The health panel will feature six different mental health experts, Mondesir said.

A historical element will also take place with bus tours of historic Black Topeka. The tour will include 12 historic locations around Topeka that relate to African-American culture and experience. Locations include Topeka’s Tennessee Town neighborhood, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and more.

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Tickets for the tours are limited and can be found on the FTC website.

Hours: 9-9:30 a.m. yoga with Reed, 9:30-10 a.m. workout with Harmon. Panels will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.

The first historic tour will begin at 10 a.m. and end at noon. The second will begin at 3 p.m. and end at 5 p.m.

For the Culture KS is a inaugural event that looks to embrace Black Culture in not only Topeka, but Kansas as a whole.

Family fun day is noted to end at 9 p.m.

Soulful Sunday

FTC will end with a day full of Soulful Gospel music. Various local church choirs will hit the stage for a musical performance.

Churches include El Shaddai Ministries Community Church, Love Fellowship Church, Faith Temple Church, New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and River of Life Church God in Christ.

Praise dance performances will take place along with other local artist and talents.

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

How can you be involved in For the Culture KS?

Volunteers are welcomed for the festival. Various spots are available within the festival that include set up, tear down crew, first aid responders, merchandise sales, road block/barricade, event photographer and more.

All volunteers must be 18 and sign a volunteer waiver form. To check out more information on how to become a volunteer, head over to the For The Culture KS website.

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Mondesir said he hopes to see the event prosper in the years to come.

“For me, I wanna see thousands sign up next year,” he said. “Because, I want this to be something where people really feel like they could see value and it’s for everybody, it’s inclusive. It’s not about one culture really, but it’s about learning about ours. It’s inclusive to everybody.”

Hardmon said having the festival in Topeka is going to mean a lot to the Black community.

“African-American men and women in Topeka need to see something positive coming out of Topeka,” he said. “You might hear about Wichita. You might hear about Kansas City, but we’re the capital, and it needs to show from the capital.”

Keishera Lately is the business reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Lately_KT.

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