CINCINNATI -- Never underestimate the power of a conversation between two friends from church, especially when those friends are Kathye Lewis and Miriam Kinard.
After talking about how the city needed a holiday showcase for businesses owned by African-Americans, they decided to create one.
Called Halle-Bration, the free event started in 2013 at New Vision United Methodist Church in Bond Hill with 30 vendors and a few hundred people in attendance. The fifth-annual event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday Dec. 9 at the church and is expected to have between 800 and 1,000 people in attendance.
“We’re glad to make it to five,” Lewis said.
The first 200 children at the event will get a free toy. Santa Claus will be there. Local artist Annie Ruth will be teaching kids Christmas crafts. There also will be presentations on the meaning of Christmas and the meaning of Kwanzaa.
There will be several new features, too. Guests will receive a brochure listing all 70 participating vendors to make it easier to do business with them all year long. And at 1:30 p.m. Bootsy Collins will hold a listening party for his new CD called “World Wide Funk.”
“We’re very excited about that because Bootsy’s in the house, and all the funkateers will be in the house, too,” Lewis said.
Kelvin Washington has been part of Halle-Bration each year since it started.
Washington is the owner of Kalawentz Naturals/ Black & Bossie LLC, which makes and sells natural hair care products from its Kennedy Heights storefront.
“You get so much bang for your buck when you go to Halle-Bration,” Washington said. “You can expect a crowd. You can expect to make money. You can expect to network.”
Deborah Hilson will be selling her handmade dolls at Halle-Bration, too. She also has been a vendor at the event since the first year.
“You meet a lot of different people that come up and say, ‘I like your dolls. I want to order a whole bunch of them,’” said Hilson, whose company is called Positively No Excuses Art with Purpose.
Thanks in part to Halle-Bration, Hilson now has a group of collectors from across the country that own five or more of her dolls.
“It’s been wonderful, and I hope it continues,” she said of Halle-Bration.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. She has been writing about women- and minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati for 20 years. To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.