An Inside Look at Broccoli City Fest 2017
May 8, 2017 @ 12:00am
If you’ve ever wondered “Is Broccoli City Fest for me?”, the answer should be an emphatic “Yes!” After five years of entertaining and bringing communities together, the Broccoli City Fest has officially become a staple in the DC art scene, standing alongside known DC favorites like Art Night Out, Funk Parade and Jazz in the Garden.
Being one of few mainstream events (if not the only one) hosted in Anacostia at Gateway DC, Broccoli City Fest manages to attract not only residents from all over the city, but from all over the country, to the Southeast quadrant. From vendors to volunteers to festivalgoers, Broccoli City Fest attracts the masses, including headliners such as Future, Solange and Rae Sremmurd.
New and reoccurring attendees alike enjoyed the open, inclusive, peaceful and enchanting atmosphere produced by festival organizers Marcus Allen and Brandon McEachern on Saturday, May 6. While Mother Earth attempted to rain down on everyone’s parade, as done in previous years, the joy and excitement was uncontainable. It was a day of culture and hope.
When asking festivalgoers what attracted them to Broccoli City Fest, many newcomers echoed Solange as the main factor, but the event is considered home to most in attendance. Many come year after year.
“Broccoli City is the unpretentious festival, offering so much for so little,” said one festivalgoer.
It was the marijuana-induced vibes, onsite mural creations and eclectic artists that made Broccoli City Fest an overall enjoyable experience. In fact, many commented on the friendly atmosphere of the festival, and appreciated its commitment to being socially conscious.
With a special focus on community health and social responsibility, a sense of volunteerism and eco-friendliness is ingrained in the festival. Consider admittance to the event: while ticket prices were as low as $69, those unable to pay were offered a chance to gain access by volunteering in various community initiatives throughout the city.
Vendor Lanise Harris of No Chaser Naturals bottles her products in reused miniature liquor bottles in an effort to “take care of Mother Earth” and cut down on plastic waste, pollution and threats to animals’ lives. Even the rising brands profiting from a modest table at the festival were also in theme, uplifting the community with catchy brand names such as FlyNerd and EAT (Elevate All the Time).
The fact is, Broccoli City Fest has something for everyone. Vegans have food options, Planned Parenthood is onsite for questions and State Farm is signing up those in need of insurance. It’s a melting pot like no other, but maintains the culture deeply rooted and most appreciated in Southeast DC.
“Made in the District” is another theme of Broccoli City Fest, giving a platform to local businesses and artists alike. Local rapper Chaz French was invited a second year in a row to wow and prepare attendees for headliners Solange and Rae Sremmurd.
While the headliners were drastically different, each were well-received. Solange’s soft tones whispered through the grounds, creating a calm space that allowed viewers to truly appreciate her artistic performance. She gave audiences a moment to reflect and allow the handcrafted cocktails to settle and take effect as Rae Sremmurd’s electric energy caused unceasing bounce and head nods throughout Gateway DC.
Again, not many saw need for improvement, but those who return year after year did notice a significant decline in vendors this year. Vendors from last year recalled three times as many vendors on hand for the event last year. Offering thoughts for improvement, Skin Tix Cosmetics Owner Yetunde Alabi felt “logistical things were too much for vendors this year.”
According to vendors, festival organizers changed the eligibility requirements for vendors this year, insisting small businesses purchase a $1 million insurance policy to use a booth/table to sell items. This may have been the root cause for the decline in vendors, and may have been intentional. But even this factor didn’t slow or hamper the enthusiasm for and the success of Broccoli City Fest. One might say it is definitely here to stay.
Learn more about Broccoli City Fest here.