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Families Get Ready For School At African Arts Festival

African Arts Festival

The Web site for the 2011 African Festival of the Arts. (Credit: African Festival of the Arts)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A back to school rally on Monday attracted thousands of people in Washington Park.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reprorts, some took the time to do a little shopping at the park, at 51st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports

In the African marketplace recreated, the sounds of drums followed passersby, as did the sweet smell of incense — both imported — as were many other unique items for sale at the 22nd annual African Festival of the Arts.

Event coordinators said it’s a back-to-school event for more than just the kids.

The festival featured food, music and fun, aimed at teaching everyone a bit of African culture.

Africa International House board chairman Joseph Harrington said several local African restaurants had booths, including Vee-Vee’s, 6232 N. Broadway, and Yassa, 716 E. 79th St.

Children danced as bands and drummers took the stage.

On Tuesday, it’s back to school for most public school students here in Chicago.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger was keeping a low profile as he walked around the festival, in plain clothes. Pfleger stopped to talk to WBBM Newsradio, saying he is saddened by the discussions about a longer school day.

Pfleger says he supports a longer day, but he also believes in what teachers have been wanting – a “smarter school day” and he thinks that Chicago students should have both a longer and a smarter school day.

“We know how to do it. We know how to do Whitney Young. We know how to do Walter Payton. We know how to do King Prep. We know how to do good schools. We just choose where do them,” Pfleger said, “and it’s time to make every school an excellent school – longer school days and great school days.”