Goombay Festival highlights multiculturalism in Asheville

Souls Were Fed


The 2016 Asheville Goombay Festival was beautiful. There is so much to say about why it was so beautiful. For now, here are a few comments about it I pulled from Facebook.

The first quote is from Chef Gene Ettison, who had his first booth at a festival this weekend, J. Lee’s Chicken Shack. He plans to open a food truck.

Gene Ettison of J.Lee’s Chicken Shack. Photo by Makeda Sandford.

“MY CITY, MY CITY!! I’ve NEVER felt more proud of my city than I did this Goombay weekend! The love and support from EVERYBODY, for EVERYBODY was amazing!! I honestly felt a sense of natural love and unity in the air that was reminiscent of our ancestors, how they wanted the next person to win, knowing that if you make it WE ALL MAKE IT!! ALL RACES, CREEDS, COLORS AND RELIGIONS STOPPED BY THE J.LEE BOOTH AND IT BLESSED MY SOUL IN A WAY THAT I COULD NEVER CONVEY….

So to EVERY single person that stopped and said hello, bought our ‘infamous’ Cajun honey wings, gave us a shot out on your social media platforms or even if you’re somewhere stewing in your sauce… YOU GUYS FREAKING ROCK!! And with a sincerity of heart, I LOVE EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU!! Tomorrow is looking so much brighter for this world because of you, you, and you!! THANK YOU!” – Gene Ettison

An amazing piece of history and piece of the story, this photo shows Gene (in a grey jacket) walking with his mother at the Asheville Goombay Festival in 1986. 

YMI Slide Goombay 1986 Asheville African American History

Elizabeth Garland was the emcee for the Goombay Step Dance Contest, a judge for the Hair-I-Tage Hair Show, and a performer with the Project Negus dance group, pictured below.

“Ever since I was 12 years old, I attended the Goombay festival. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this year’s Goombay Festival, and love dancing with these incredible women! #goombay2016″ – Elizabeth Lashay Garland

Jessica Tomasin, Angela Clemmons, DJ Twan and TY MO with DJ Kool. Photo by me. 

“Thankful & Grateful to be a part of the GOOMBAY CREW which consists of A Good Number of Us not just Me… A lot of Sleepless Nights & Plenty of Hours Put In from EVERYBODY to MAKE GOOMBAY A SUCCESSFUL & REMEMBERABLE WEEKEND….!!!!! Hope We Did Our Part & See Y’all Next Year for #Goombay2017 #Salute” – Joe Greene

Melissa Henry (pictured below with her daughter) was the emcee of the Second Stage, as well as one of the many local performers of all ages who shared their talents on that stage all weekend.


“Great weekend! Positive vibes, family, building community, mentoring, teaching, encouraging the youth, and Learning about our history. Thank you YMI for continuing to be a unifying, positive presence and providing a platform for our people. Goombay 2016” – Melissa Henry

“Thanks for all that stop by the booth got funnel cake cotton candy or snow cones fried Oreo…thanks for all that said I like your music – it was love peace and happiness!!! #discobabies” – — Damion “Dj Supaman” Smith

There are great photos of the festival showing up online, and more enthusiastic reviews of the weekend. I may add more to this post as I find it!