Groove and Grub at the 2019 Asheville Goombay Festival

If you’re someone who loves big cultural events, live music, good food, and community then mark your calendar for Asheville’s Annual Goombay Festival happening September, 20 – 22nd where the theme is ‘Bringing it Back to the Block!’. The Block off Biltmore, that is, meaning it’s the original location (which was my favorite) keeping it intimate maximizing the fun. Goombay is a free weekend festival that will have you dancing and harmonizing with the sounds of deep African culture. From the colorful sights, thumping drum circles, to the tasty traditional grub make this family-friendly event an epic artistic festival not to be missed.

What is Goombay?

Goombay is a West African and Caribean inspired annual celebration of food, heritage, and music resonating as gospel, reggae, funk, and soul bound to strengthen laughter and love. Similar to the Bahama Village Goombay Festival in Key West, the Asheville version is vibrant and full of life. Promoted by the YMI Cultural Center in downtown Asheville, this rich, ethnic festival demonstrates artistic talent, drumming, scrumptious food and dancing is 100% encouraged. So many Asheville locals crave a more diverse city and Goombay Fest has been moving this forward for many years now bringing peace and harmony to one of Asheville’s most beloved city parks, Pack Square.

Expressive dance and drumming at Goombay Festival. Photo credit via Instagram: @goombayfestival

This year, Goombay Festival will host a plethora of food stalls and retail businesses, including Bhramari Brewing Company, dedicated to African-Caribbean culture. Performances will also fill the sounds and sights for festival-goers. It will be held at Pack Square Park on September 6th – 8th, 2019, Friday to Sunday.

Goombay Hours

Friday, September 20th, 5 – 10pm
Saturday, September 21st, 10 – 10pm
Sunday, Septemeber 22nd, 10 – 5pm

YMI Cultural Center

The foundation was set for this center 126 years ago in celebration of and with observance for people of all ethnicities. The YMI Cultural Center’s mission is to promote multiculturalism and preserve heritage identity. Located on historic Eagle Street downtown Asheville, the YMI (The Young Man’s Institute) center was created and funded in the late 1890s in full support of the African-American community in hopes to create a space for congregating, worshipping, and educating those in need.

Set into motion by George Vanderbilt in 1892, this Tudor-style structure was built by and for the several hundred skilled African-American workers who assisted in building and creating the Biltmore House. The YMI quickly became the hub for cultural events, an education center, library, medical facility, gymnasium, and religious gathering. The YMI Cultural Center building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This photograph shows a few of the black leaders who were working to purchase the building for the black community, dating the picture 1905. Identified left to right are: far left, Mrs. Maggie Jones (wife of the YMI pharmacist Henry E. Jones); fourth from left, Edward W. Pearson Sr.; fifth from left, Dr. Lee Otus Miller; standing behind Dr. Miller, Stanley Mc Dowell; far right, James Vester Miller (Dr. Miller’s father). Photo credit via Instagram: @ymi1893

The YMI center is still thriving today and is the top sponsor for the annual Goombay Festival. Look for exhibits, events, happenings and more about how to support the YMI, go to their website

Beer Release at Bhramari Brewing

Originally named “Hive Mind”, Bhramari Brewing Company was dreamt up to be a unique artist collective among the many players in the brewing industry. Named after the world’s first known word for “black bees” and the Hindu Goddess of Bees, the Bhramari Brewing Co. opened their doors in 2016, calling Asheville home, and counts on celebrating world flavors to create brews that are culinary-inspired, locally and globally infused, and experimental.

Colorful taps at Bhramari Brewing! Photo credit via Instagram: @thevisualwasteland

Bhramari Brewing Company prides itself as a fun place to work, where its team members put forward their diverse passions to contribute to what they aim to be an elevated creative process of brewing. Incidentally, the newest flavor to come out from Bhramari has been created specifically to serve the local Goombay Festival.

Bhramari Brewing Company is proud to introduce the UMQOMBOTHI which was released on August 15th, to celebrate the partnership between Bhramari and Goombay Festival.

Umqombothi beer release at Bhramari Brewing. Photo credit via Instagram: @willywango_

Now that you have all the facts and insights to this amazing festival, add it to your September ‘things to do’ calendar. Festivals all over our area make impressive date nights because they allow you to immerse yourself in the local community.





Photo of Bhramari Brewing taps: @thevisualwasteland


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