Last weekend, from May 26 to May 28, Asheville was buzzing with excitement as Black Wall Street AVL and GRIND AVL co-hosted GRINDfest 2023, the blackest festival in town. This vibrant event was dedicated to supporting the BIPOC community, and it showcased the immense talent, resilience, and creativity of Black entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders in Asheville.
The festival kicked off on May 26 with the GRINDfest Happy Hour at the S & W Building, where attendees mingled and enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere, and wide array of drinks. Later in the evening, the “Black in Asheville” documentary was screened inside the Black Wall Street AVL building, shedding light on the rich history and experiences of the Black community in Asheville.
Simultaneously, food vendors set up shop outside the Black Wall Street area, excited festival-goers with a variety of delicious culinary offerings. As the night progressed, BJ GOLIDAY lit up the stage with a captivating Latin Night performance, leaving everyone energized and ready for the exciting days ahead.
BLACK IN ASHEVILLE DOCUMENTARY
On May 27, the festival grounds opened, welcoming visitors to explore the vibrant array of vendors and activities. The outdoor space was transformed into a lively hub of creativity, entrepreneurship, and community engagement. The Opportunity Tent provided attendees with valuable resources and networking opportunities, fostering collaboration among entrepreneurs and organizations. Inside the Black Wall Street AVL building, the Story Time with Elders sessions commenced, offering a platform for sharing wisdom and stories from older community members. Outside, line dancing sessions got everyone on their feet, showcasing the unity and joy that music and movement bring.
GRINDfest 2023 also offered exhilarating experiences for attendees of all ages. The Magic Foam Experience provided a unique foamy adventure. Hip-hop aerobics with RICO SUAVE got participants moving and grooving to the beat, and a family photo session captured precious memories to cherish for years to come. The day reached its crescendo with a captivating Drag Show on the Greenway, where talented performers wowed the audience with their flair and talent. The festivities continued into the evening with an electrifying dance battle, showcasing the incredible dance talent within the community. Finally, the Salvage Station was ablaze with energy as Waka Flocka Flame and BigBoi took the stage, delivering a memorable concert experience that had the crowd roaring with excitement.
The excitement carried over to May 28, the final day of GRINDfest 2023. Festival-goers once again immersed themselves in the vibrant atmosphere, exploring the diverse array of vendors and activities. The Beer Garden provided a relaxing space for socializing and enjoying refreshing beverages, while the Opportunity Tent continued to empower attendees with valuable knowledge and connections.
Those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation participated in a yoga session inside the Black Wall Street AVL building, finding solace and tranquility amid the festival’s energy. The day culminated in the Sunday Brunch with the Elders, a heartwarming gathering where stories were shared, wisdom was passed down, and the intergenerational bond within the community was celebrated.
GRINDfest 2023 was an extraordinary celebration of Black excellence, creativity, and community support. It exemplified the resilience, talent, and unity of the BIPOC community in Asheville. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone who attended, participated, sponsored, and supported this incredible event. GRINDfest 2023 will be remembered as a testament to the power of community and the profound impact that can be achieved when we come together to uplift and celebrate one another.
GRINDfest 2023 would not have been possible without the generous support of our primary sponsors: Truist Bank, First Horizon Bank, NC IDEA – GRANT, Explore Asheville – BCTDA, and Wicked Weed. We are grateful for their commitment to uplifting the community and making this festival a reality.
Shout Out to our Sponsors!
We also extend our gratitude to the numerous organizations and individuals who supported the event, including the Rotary Club, ArtsAVL, Buncombe County Government, Buchi, The Radical (Hatteras Sky), Highland Brewing, Mountain Housing, Dr. Bronner’s, Mountain Bizworks, The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Buncombe Partnership for Children/Buncombe County Pre-K, One World Brewing, Duke Energy, RiverArts Apartments, Asheville Chamber of Commerce, Asheville FM 103.3, YMCA of Western NC, Virtelle Hospitality, Riverlink, Senator Julie Mayfield, Uplift Barber and Beauty Academy, Lewis Family of Businesses, Hola Asheville, Manna Food Bank, Thermo Fisher, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Appalachian Community Capital, and the Racial Justice Coalition. Their support and collaboration made GRINDfest 2023 a truly inclusive and impactful event.
We look forward to future events that continue to foster unity, empowerment, and prosperity within the Black community and beyond. Stay tuned for updates and announcements as we continue our mission to support and uplift the BIPOC community in Asheville and beyond. Together, we can create a future where diversity, inclusion, and equitable opportunities are at the forefront of our society.
SPONSORS OF GRINDFEST 2023: