The Preston Cultural Festival - is a major celebration of the arts, culture and people of the Preston area (communities of East Preston, North Preston and Cherry Brook/Lake Loon - the largest and one of the oldest African Nova Scotian communities in Canada). The Festival was conceived in 2000 by a committee of the Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia and the North Preston Cultural Association. A series of small events (including a storytelling performance, art exhibition and cultural show) were organized in the spring of 2000 at various locations in HRM. This served as a precursor to the Festival program.
The first full edition of the Festival, In The Spirit: The 2001 Preston Cultural Festival, was organized in March, 2001. In addition to local performers, this very successful first edition featured storyteller Jou Jou Turenne (Montreal), jazz composer Joe Sealy (Toronto), and Cherry Brook-born actress/singer Shelley Hamilton (Toronto).
New Generations: The 2002 Preston Cultural Festival (November 2002) was even more successful. The Festival featured the international folklore ensemble The Georgia Sea Island Singers (St. Simon Island, Georgia), the play The Meeting, and the remarkable exhibition When Black Women Useta' Fly - the first exhibition presenting the African Nova Scotian Quilt making Tradition.
The Festival is organized annually by the Preston Cultural Festival Society, which consists of members from the Preston area and the representatives of several Preston-connected community organizations including: The Black Artists Network, Cherry Brook Education Committee, North Preston Cultural Association, the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, Preston Millennium Cultural Initiative Society and Voices Black Theatre Ensemble.