/  05.01.2022

Two weeks before Broccoli City Festival is revived in Washington, D.C., organizers are tying up loose ends.

They’re making sure processes are in place and everything is set up so the two-day event will run smoothly from start to finish.

“That’s where we’re at,” said Jermon Williams, one of the four founders of the Broccoli City organization.

Over the phone, Williams and co-founder Brandon McEachern sound like they can’t wait for the festivities to return after a two-year absence. They’re just as excited to discuss the company they’ve built over the last ten years, and how they continue to preach higher standards of sustainable living, environmental sustainability, economic opportunity, and access to high-quality food and shelter to urban millennials in the District.

 

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In the beginning, the four founders — friends McEachern, Williams, Darryl Perkins, and Marcus Allen — just wanted to create something positive for their community.

“We definitely knew that we just wanted to continue to touch more people,” McEachern said. “When you think about folks that might not be able to go to Disney World but you got this festival. You might not be able to see Drake because the tickets are too expensive but we gon’ hold you down. We’ll give you something instead.

“We started this joint in 2013 in Los Angeles and we called it ‘Global Coolin.’ It had Dom Kennedy and Kendrick Lamar and we had the healthy juices. It was an Earth Day celebration. It’s always about healthy lifestyle, wellness, and sustainability. It’s always like how do we hold y’all down?

The 2022 festival is expected to draw thousands of people to the D.C. area — some locals, and some from out of town. Tickets are almost sold out, so it’s evident Williams and McEachern aren’t the only ones ready for the concert to come back to the city.

After canceling the festival two years in a row due to COVID-19 restrictions, the founders came up with the idea to turn BC Fest into a two-day event with Ari Lennox headlining on Day 1 and Summer Walker on Day 2. Getting the collective to agree to making it happen was easy, however, having to refund ticket holders and pivot to smaller more intimate events during the pandemic was a challenge.

 

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“We’ve been down for two years, let’s just give folks two days. Let’s make it pop,” McEachern said. “It was just like, ‘hey, we see a runway let’s just make it happen.’ And usually, when we make a decision we just stick with it. We just push to make it happen, especially to get some of the artists that we got.”

“In 2020, we had a very good lineup when you think about the DaBaby’s of the world and Megan Thee Stallion,” he continued. “It was a damn moment… After that, we ended up pivoting and doing drive-in movies.”

“We also provided a platform for independent filmmakers to be able to showcase their projects because, at that time, movie theaters were shut down,” Williams added.

Both of the co-founders agree that Broccoli City is one of the only festivals that’s catered toward Black and brown people. They’re intentional about providing an outlet for underrepresented communities to have a similar experience as a Coachella, Rolling Loud or Lollapalooza attendee would have.

“We’re unapologetic about that,” Williams said. “We encourage our allies and other friends to come in and support but we’re unapologetically Black when it comes to who our intended audience is.”

“Those other festivals were not necessarily made for – I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing them – but when it comes to making events for Black culture, Broccoli City is one of the only ones that is created specifically for us,” McEachern explained. “I think about us when I’m booking. We think about us when we create the programs for the conference. Those other festivals, I don’t think we’re the first person that they think about.

“Jermon was smart enough to come up with this program with a young lady named [Angela] Byrd and the community picks who the local artist is going to be. When you go to a Governor’s Ball or a Rolling Loud I don’t see them, no disrespect, but they’re not thinking about the local acts. They’re getting Kanye and they can care less what that criticism might be.”

 

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In addition to the festival returning, the organizers are also bringing back a couple of coinciding events that align with their mission of health, wellness, and sustainability. There’s BroccoliCon, an incubator consisting of interactive program panels, professional development workshops, skill-building activities, and exclusive networking receptions.

The 5k race and Fit Fest is back too and will be held a few hours before the first artist hits the stage on Day 1. And there’s the BC All Night event, which is sponsored by Spotify’s Frequency and put together by some of the city’s active promoters the Friday before the festival. Through the ChipN app, volunteers can select a service project in the D.C. area and earn a ticket to the festival.

“Swag surf, special DJ moments — everybody feeling a Marvin Gaye track — it’s a real community,” McEachern said. “It’s definitely the best-dressed festival. If you want to come out and see some fly folk, then you want to come to Broccoli City.”

Broccoli City Festival will be held Saturday (May 7) and Sunday (May 8) at the RFK Festival Grounds in Washington, D.C. Summer Walker, Ari Lennox, 21 Savage, Jeezy, Wizkid, Wale, Gunna, Rico Nasty, and more are expected to perform.

 

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