By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
The walk to FedEx Field is a long one- no matter which way you came. The trek was made more difficult by the sun that beamed down with a vengeance and wind that blew with a will. Still, that did not stop the mass of people making their way to the Broccoli City Festival on Sunday. And once they got there, it was like Mecca.
In the end more than 30,000 people attended the star-studded extravaganza, filled with performances, local vendors and food, food and food.
Childish Gambino entered in the center of the crowd on a platform that rose far above the audience at the 2019 Broccoli City Festival at FedEx Field in Landover, MD on April 27. (Photo by Micha Green)
Broccoli City is a social enterprise co-founded by Darryl Perkins and Brandon McEachern. BC has a mission to “build thriving urban communities that sustain future generations by mobilizing and educating millennials through social impact campaigns and major events.” In 2017 BC expanded programming to a year-round schedule.
There was absolutely something for everyone during Broccoli City Weekend, which spanned from Thursday until Sunday. During the week over 500 people attended a plethora of panels and events during Broccolicon, a gathering meant to inspire people to find solutions to challenges in urban communities. Thought leaders from around the world attended.
(L-R) Ryan, Austin and Collin Gill are ready for business at Broccoli Festival. (Photo by George Kevin Jordan)
There was a 5K run and Fitness festival at Gateway Pavillion, encouraging exercise and healthy living. The festival itself was star power on 100, with Childish Gambino and Lil Wayne as headliners with 6lack, Lil Baby, Ella Mai, Teyana Taylor and City Girls and a host of other acts, who all to the stage all Saturday.
“I’m here to have fun to see Childish Gambino, Teyana Taylor, Wizkid,” Danielle Wallace, a D.M.V. resident, said Sunday. “This is like my second time. Honestly it was much more intimate last year because it was in D.C. But it’s okay to upscale.”
Upscale indeed. The crowd swelled over the afternoon with thousands of people pouring into the venue up until late in the evening. But the festival was not just a chance for D.M.V. residents to turn up. It allowed many small businesses and organizations and opportunity to connect with the people.
“One of our biggest things is to bring the rural to the urban,” said Xavier Brown of the Black Dirt Farm Collective. “The rural is where our grandparents came from, and the urban space is where the people are, the money and where the young people are. So we are trying to bridge that gap.”
Brown and his colleagues were at the festival to introduce people to the benefits of farmers and reconnecting with the land. The Black Dirty Farm Collective hosts Black farming gatherings with the ultimate goal, “to get land and to have safe spaces for Black people, growing our agricultural knowledge.”
Instead of playing video games or seeing the “Avengers” movie this weekend, Collin, Ryan and Austin Gill set up their tent and got to work. The brothers are the owners of Freres Branchiaux Candle Co., handmade candles and fragrances that are organic and non-toxic.
“Me and my brothers want games, and our mom said no,” the eldest, Collin said. “She said get a job and start a business.” The boys asked their mom what was her favorite thing to buy and she told them candles, and their business was born. The boys said it only takes five to ten minutes to make the candles, and they have a host of other items for sale as well.
Collin said they decided to sell their wares at the Broccoli City Festival because, “everybody said it was a big event plus, we heard it on the radio.”
The Broccoli City Weekend may have culminated with the concert, but the organization has many activations and initiatives throughout the year. For more information please go to: www.broccolicity.com