Philipsburg Manor welcomes visitors to Djembes and Dance

SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY (May 2, 2017) — An African drumming festival, the first of its kind in the area, is coming to Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY, on Saturday, May 20, from noon-5 p.m.

Visitors to Djembes and Dance can dine on traditional African-American cuisine, learn some new dance steps, listen to dramatic retellings of traditional African folktales, and get swept up in the rhythms of the drums in all-day performances.

African drumming and musical demonstrations directed by Master Drummer Neil Clarke, take place throughout the day. Musicians performing include Ghanian native Maxwell Kofi Donkor (drums), Muhamadou Salieu Suso (kora), and Henrique Prince (fiddle).

A highlight of Djembes and Dance is a re-creation of a colonial cross-cultural event known as Pinkster, first celebrated in the Hudson Valley in the 17th century. 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.

As in historic Pinkster celebrations, two “Grand Events” will mark the day. The first is the Pinkster Parade and the Game of Lies, beginning at 1pm. 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.

Other highlights include storytelling by April Armstrong and African Colonial dance by Judith Samuel and the Children of Dahomey.

Culinary connoisseurs can enjoy historic food demonstrations by Pam Nyambi and food writer and culinary historian Michael W. Twitty, author of the blog Afroculinaria and the upcoming book The Cooking Gene. Delicious food will be available for purchase throughout the day from Geordane’s of Irvington.

Ongoing activities include demonstrations of a traditional African mancala game, open-hearth cooking, crafts, and tours of the working gristmill.

In the Marketplace, visitors will find a selection of African jewelry, print fabrics, brooms, and switches.

“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.

Online admission is $14 for adults; $12 for seniors; $8 for children 3-17; and free for children under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members. Prices are $2 more per ticket when purchased on site.

More about Philipsburg Manor
In 1750, Philipsburg Manor, which includes a working water-powered gristmill and new world Dutch barn, was home to 23 enslaved individuals known to have lived and labored there. It is the country’s only living history museum that focuses on the history of northern slavery.

Philipsburg Manor is at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., two miles north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Information: 914-366-6900,

You can find Historic Hudson Valley on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.