ITHACA, N.Y. — The Congo Square Market’s eighth season will kick off June 24 with organizers citing it in a Facebook post as the most powerful yet.
The market will take place at Southside Community Center Fridays from 4-8 p.m. from June to September.
“I’m excited for the potential given the lineup of performers and vendors that we’ll be having this year,” said Marketing and Entertainment organizer Remanu Steele.
New to this year’s market are the Fall Creek Brass Band, and local vegan doughnut company Phenomenom. The variety of vendors at the market will be greater than that of previous years, with Thai, Cuban, Jamaican, and soul food all available.
“My hope is that with the organizing that’s gone into this year’s market, and my intentions, the vendors of the market can become more cohesive than before and unite under the Congo Square Market organization itself,” said Steele.
Organizer Jhakeem Haltom cited the market as having three defining components: vendors, entertainment, and youth entrepreneurship.
He values the space the Congo Square Market provides for young people in the community to learn entrepreneurial skills they may not have the opportunity to gain otherwise.
“There’s a cultural integrity that is happening with Congo Square that I think is really important,” Haltom said.
Notable performers include local rap artist SAMMUS, who describes her genre as “black girl nerd raps.”
Organizers are particularly excited to showcase the music of local jazz and soul singer Kristina Camille Sims.
Speaking to the inspirational nature of her music, Steele said, “She has a couple new albums since last year, of which a few of the songs I’ve heard, and they’re absolutely amazing, relevant, and really colorful songs that touch on a lot of issues as well as presenting a lot of solutions in terms of living daily life in the light of global issues.”
There will also be returning performers, such as DJ Afar and DJ Ramsey.
“I’m excited to work with them again and expand upon our relationship,” said Steele.
Another new addition to the market this year will be the “Congo Free Swap” trading table, a mediated space for the exchange of items from ranging from plant seeds to books or DVDs.
Organizers hope that this will provide community members a reason to come to the market that does not involve the need to spend money. This season, the Congo Square Market will also serve as a meeting place for the local organization #BlackLivesMatterIthaca.
Haltom and Steele both believe the Congo Square Market is integral to the Ithaca Community for countless reasons, including its affordability and focus on promoting a diverse group of vendors and entertainers.
“People need more community that cuts across cultural racial lines and brings us together, and I think Congo Square is that opportunity,” said Haltom. “Fresh air coming from people of color is really necessary for all of us.”