Happy Nappy Day is a summer celebration of kinky and curly hair. Imagine a carnival complete with funnel cakes, funky jewelry, cold lemonade, and spoken word poets all aimed at celebrating curly hair.

This event is in its eighth year and was created by Malaika Tamu-Cooper, the owner of the natural hair salon, Dreadz-n-Headz in Baltimore. Happy Nappy Day is held in Woodland Memorial Park and although the number of attendees seemed small at the start, once the sun began to dip behind the trees, it quickly became a collective of Afros, flat twists, and even a woman with twenty foot long locks!

The festival is held in conjunction with Poets in the Park, so much of the entertainment focused on performance poetry; however there were singers, belly dancers and even hip-hop artists.

Overall, it’s a chance to relax with your family and friends surrounded by like-minded individuals who share a kinship through naturally curly hair.

Shea Butter, Silver, Sweets, and Sounds

Product junkies beware: Happy Nappy Day will make your shopping fingers itch.

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t buy any new hair or skincare products until I finished a few bottles first, but I almost broke my promise visiting the Zuresh tent. It was so hard to walk away from their Lemon Cake Full Body Cleanser - the smell was delicious.

The majority of the vendors catered to kinky curly hair, but the jewelry, hair accessory and food vendors were also in attendance and just as tempting. I was unable to resist buying lemonade, not only because of the 90-degree weather, but also because I’ve never seen anyone add spinach and mint to it before. I wanted a second one as soon as I slurped down to the bottom.

Later, I settled down in the performance area and listened to local, and not so local (New York, Philadelphia, Virginia, etc) poets. Watoto from the Nile, who are clearly fed up with negative messages promoted in hip-hop. They gave a scathing lyrical critique in their song “Letter to Lil Wayne” using the beat to his own song “I’m Single.”

Be Happy and Nappy Next Year

A little preparation for Happy Nappy Day will ensure your celebration goes well. First, you’ll want to arrive early because parking is limited. This will also allow you to circulate through the vendors before the crowd arrives, and potentially snag that cute pair of silver earrings you wanted.

Next, you’ll want to bring a large blanket (or lawn chair) so you‘ll have a comfortable place to sit for the performances. Ants, mosquitoes, and their buggy friends attend Happy Nappy Day too, so slather your skin with insect repellant. While you are focused on protecting yourself from bug invasions, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun, with sunscreen, that adorable hat you bought last week or even an umbrella.

Finally, bring cash because there aren’t any ATMs at the park and many of the vendors don’t accept plastic.

If you do attend next year, I’ll see you there. This curly-headed girl will definitely be heading back, cash in hand!