GRINDfest 2021: Asheville’s newest festival

Depot Street, GRINDfest Asheville 2021.
Depot St. | Photo by AVLtoday

Earlier this month, Buncombe County voted to make Juneteenth an official holiday — and now we are lucky enough to have a brand-new festival to go along with it. Say hello to GRINDfest, a free, 3-day festival that celebrates freedom from slavery, as well as the success of Black entrepreneurs + business owners in Asheville. 

Slated for June 18-20, the block-party style event will take place on Depot St. in the River Arts District and include a weekend full of music, live performances, food, local vendors + learning opportunities. The goal of the festival is to highlight the progress made by people of color while also connecting folks in the community who are from different cultures. 

So, who’s making this happen? J Hackett + Bruce Waller Jr., who you may already know as the co-owners of Grind AVL coffee shop and the founders of the Black Wall St. cohort. It’s also already racked up some impressive sponsors: NC IDEA, Explore Asheville, Racial Justice Coalition + Buncombe County Government

Here are 5 things we’re thrilled about for the inaugural 2021 GRINDfest:

Savagery (A Therapeutic Play) | Fri., June 18, 7 p.m. 

  • Check out a live performance of this anthology-style, musically-influenced play, scripted by local author Nicole Lee

Love Jones Poetry Slam | Fri., June 18, 8:30 p.m.

  • An evening of rhythm, rhyme, food + music. The top poet will receive a $500 prize package.

Community Awards + Food Around the World | Sun., June 20, 12 p.m. 

  • An awards ceremony for family members, business-owners and nonprofits who demonstrate the values of hustle, resilience + extraordinary care. 
  • You can also enjoy food from local vendors offering West African and Jamaican cuisine, along with a seafood boil prepared by Clarence Robinson (AKA the Flavor King). 

Depot Street Dance Party | Sat., June 19, 7 p.m. 

  • A huge dance party featuring main stage performances from DJ Audio + DJ Artist Anderson. Come for the jams, stick around for the DJ battle.

Games Tournament | Sat., June 19, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.  

  • Enjoy card games + family friendly activities while munching on offerings from local food vendors. 

Want to get involved with the festival? GRINDfest is actively seeking out volunteers and sponsors for the big day. See you all on Depot St.