The basketball at the CIAA tournament may begin in earnest at Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday, but so do off-the-court events.
The tournament is back in Charlotte for the 10th straight year and as in the past, it has brought thousands of fans and graduates from the conference’s 12 schools – including Charlotte’s Johnson C. Smith University – who are expected to spend $30 million at local businesses.
The CIAA is the nation’s oldest black athletic conference, created more than 100 years ago by all-black colleges and universities that sprang up just before and after the Civil War when few white schools admitted African-Americans.
So the yearly tournament is more than a week of basketball. It’s a family reunion.
The games run through Saturday. Here’s a refresher of what’s going on off the court:
Food Lion Chef Challenge at the Charlotte Convention Center (501 S. College St.): The tournament’s main sponsor hosts cooking demonstrations Thursday and Friday, 5 to 10 p.m., and on Saturday noon to 8 p.m. There will also be taste challenges between private brands and national brands. It’s free.
Funny man Rickey Smiley, radio, stage and TV personality, will bring his nationally syndicated radio show to the CIAA, airing live from the Charlotte Convention Center, Halls A and B, 6 to 10 a.m.
Starting at 9 p.m., the Legends of Hip Hop will fill the Convention Center’s Hall C. Featured performers: Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Chubb Rock and MC Lyte. Tickets: www.crowntickets.com.
HEAVEN @ BLUE at Blue Restaurant (206 N. College St.): Featuring DJ 06 and The Let It Flow Band. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Tickets: www.talkofthetownent.com.
Charlotte Takeover at Oasis Tent (514 N. College St.): The star-studded lineup is scheduled to include Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill, Ginuwine, Tank, Yo Gotti, Bigga Rankin, Rich Homie Quan and DJ Milk. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.. Tickets: www.eventbrite.com.
Tom Joyner will broadcast his syndicated radio show from the Convention Center’s Halls A and B, 6 to 10 a.m.
Food Lion Day at the CIAA: The Salisbury-based company will host interactive games, giveaways and the company’s scholarship check presentations at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Official Day Party Headquarters Part 1 at the NC Music Factory (900 NC Music Factory Blvd.): The Texicali (formerly called Saloon) and The Comedy Zone will rock with music from four DJs. Time noon to midnight, with celebrity late-night parties 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Details: www.talkofthetownent.com.
Party With a Purpose at BLT Steak at The Ritz-Carlton (110 N. College St.): A red-carpet, “dress-to-impress” event to raise awareness about child homelessness. Proceeds go to A Child’s Place. Music by DJ Mark. 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets: www.achildsplace.org.
Jazz at Packard Place continues with two performances Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. Harvey Cummings, a Charlotte-raised saxophonist, pianist and keyboardist, will lead an all-star band playing the music of Charlie “Bird” Parker. Packard Place was built in 1929 as a Packard automobile dealership.
Miss CIAA Competition, Time Warner Cable Arena: Food Lion will crown Miss CIAA 2015 at 11 a.m. and present scholarships to the winner and first and second runner-ups on the arena’s main court.
The Official Day Party Headquarters, Part 2 at the NC Music Factory: Rapper Chubb Rock set to perform with DJs Shakim, Flemingo and Big Cutz presiding over the turntables. Noon to midnight. Details: www.talkofthetownent.com.
CIAA Post Tournament Concert at Charlotte Convention Center: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, one the most influential R&B/soul groups of all time, is the headliner. 10 p.m. Tickets: www.crowntickets.com.