Inspired by the grand cross-cultural springtime celebrations jointly created by Dutch settlers and enslaved Africans during colonial times, Philipsburg Manor’s Pinkster is described as "a rousing re-creation. Pinkster was a joyous, festive occasion that celebrated the arrival of spring. For the African community riven by enslavement, it was a profound opportunity for family members and friends, many of whom were split off and spread out from each other, to come together."
“It was a chance for people, especially those forced to toil in rural, isolated areas, to get together, to see their own relatives and friends,” said Thom Thacker, Philipsburg Manor site director.
Pinkster, which is sponsored by Con Edison, features dancing, drumming, African folktales, and cooking demonstrations. Musical performers include a roaming fiddler and a player of the kora, which is a traditionAl West African instrument.
African drumming and dance demonstrations will be led by Maxwell Kofi Donkor, a Ghanaian native and renowned drummer who is also an award-winning sculptor and art educator. Kofi has shared the stage with drummers such as Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead and Babatunde Olatunji and his Drums of Passion.
Other Pinkster performance highlights include storytelling by April Armstrong and African Colonial dance by Judith Samuel and the Children of Dahomey.
As in historic Pinkster celebrations, two “Grand Events” mark the day. The first is the Pinkster Parade and the Game of Lies, beginning at 12:30 p.m. After this elaborate ceremony of matching wits, the community crowns the Pinkster King. Later in the afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Election takes place, which names the Pinkster Regent, who will be the King for the following year.
Besides the special performances and Grand Events, ongoing activities include demonstrations of coopering and open-hearth cooking, crafts, games, plus tours of the working gristmill and manor house.
TraditionAl West Indian and African-American cuisine by Chef El Amin will be available for purchase throughout the day.
“Pinkster” comes from the Dutch word for Pentecost and was originally a Dutch spring holiday that combined religious and secular traditions. But despite the holiday’s Dutch origins, Africans in New York and New Jersey were so successful at incorporating their own cultures into the celebration that by the early 1800s, Pinkster was actually considered an African-American holiday.
Pinkster Festival is sponsored by Con Edison. Admission is $14 for adults; $12 for seniors; $8 for children 3-17; and free for children under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members. Philipsburg Manor is at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. For information and tickets: www.hudsonvalley.org, 914-631-8200.