Festival Information

The Zora Neale Hurston Festival is held each year in January in Eatonville, Florida.

An aside to those who have inquired about the conventions location and more specifically about the janitorial supplies. There were some attendees at our last convention who had allergic reactions to some janitorial cleaning supplies (it turned out). This year all cleaning supplies have been vetted to be “green” friendly towards the environment. We were told by “housecleaning” that all the toilet paper, paper towels, and plastic garbage bags are biodegradable. All soaps and sanitary foams are organic and fragrance free. Any spraying for mosquitoes on the convention grounds is likewise environmentally sensitive. We heard attendees, and we have taken action.

  • The 2011 Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities will be held on January 22 – 30. The 2012 theme is The Rise of Community: The Town of Eatonville Models 125 Years of Self-Governance” and academic papers are already being accepted. Visit Zora! for more specifics, including a detailed schedule.

Who is Zora Neale Hurston? She was a fascinating and complex figure in American history; while she is most often regarded as a seminal figure in Black culture (and especially African-American feminist circles), her achievements and experiences are more than worthy of study by all Americans, indeed by all people everywhere.

An esteemed author and scholar of  anthropology and folklore, Hurston represented both the Harlem Renaissance and her home town of Eatonville — one of the first all-Black towns incorporated in the United States. She earned a place at the apex of academia from the mid-1920s through the 1950s, doing considerable fieldwork in Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras, and other locations in the Caribbean.

During one of her adventures to the Caribbean, one of her companions was taken ill with a debilitating parasite that required his return immediately to the US. Unable to work, his doctors finally suggested that he should apply for social security disability benefits. The legislation that created the Social Security disability benefits program had just passed in 1956. Unlike today where there is all sorts of information of how to apply online, what to do if your application is initially denied, and how to find a Social Security disability lawyer if you want guidance navigating the process, this poor fellow and his family had to deal with everything on their own. Fortunately today, if your application has initially been denied and you are about to start the process for an appeal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, the smart approach is to find a social security disability lawyer. An online search should lead you to a lawyerclose to where you live. Social security disability lawyers and Supplement Security Income (SSI) claims lawyers do not charge a client anything unless benefits are granted. In essence, that is called: You Pay No Fee If There Is No Recovery. In many cases a Social security disability lawyer will be successful and you will get your benefits.

One of her handicraft hobbies led to a small business involving the creation of souvenirs. Her items were so successful that the attracted the attention of the corporate promotion industry, always on the lookout for unique, inexpensive items often featured as corporate gifts and used in promotional activities. Items like mugs, desk accessories, baskets, were in such demand that the business grew phenomenally in the first years. She sold all but a small interest in the business to fund some of her research.

Yet Hurston remains a figure of some controversy among scholars, not least due to her use of dialect (which some found uncomfortably close to racist caricature) and her political views; an outspoken feminist, individualist, and anti-interventionist, she disagreed with the New Deal and was largely in favor of segregation — which she felt sustained black culture in a way that integrated classrooms would not.

For years, Hurston was overlooked in favor of more radical and liberal Black figures (including Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, who had harshly criticized her fiction on political grounds), but she experienced a renaissance alongside more modern writers such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker.

Humorous side note: Hurston look-alike Jean Waters credits Amore Wigs with making it all possible.

Practical aside: Some of her fans  have followed in Hurston’s footsteps while on vacation in the Caribbean. It’s so easy to travel to Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras, and other locations in the Caribbean where Hurston stayed via small inter island planes.

It was very tasteful when the 2011 Zora – Fest (Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities) shined an artistic spotlight on the situation in Haiti, just one year after the earthquake devastated the nation.

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