Kwanzaa Fest, a cultural celebration recognizing African American heritage, returned to Aiken this Saturday at the Smith-Hazel Recreation Center.

"We brought the event back to give the community an opportunity to celebrate a cultural event around the holidays," said the Rev. Brendolyn Jenkins Boseman.

As the executive director of the Imani Group (a local nonprofit that seeks to enforce social and criminal justice in the Aiken area), Jenkins Boseman was the driving force behind the event's return this year.

Jenkins Boseman said the holiday of Kwanzaa, which officially kicks off on Dec. 26, is not a replacement for religious holidays but rather an event that celebrates the roots of African American culture. 

"It (Kwanzaa Fest) also gives small business vendors an opportunity to show their wares and their crafts," Jenkins Boseman said.

Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration that was created in 1966 to honor African American heritage. Kwanzaa involves the celebration of seven core principles – such as Imani, the Swahili word for faith.

Marvene Carey was a small business vendor at Kwanzaa Fest who was showcasing her handmade wreaths, which she said is a hobby.

"I decided to go with the traditional wreaths too, but since this is the Kwanzaa event, I decided to also make some wreaths with the colors of Kwanzaa, which are green, black and red," Carey said.

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, who attended the event, purchased one of Carey's Christmas wreaths for the holidays. 

"It's a great event and a cultural celebration," Osbon said. "I was certainly happy to come out and support it."

Kwanzaa ends on New Year's Day. 

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.