By C.N. Staff Writer
Earth Day 2014 kicked off in the Southeast neighborhood of Congress Heights this year with the second annual Broccoli City Festival. The half-day music festival, which celebrates Earth Day was held at the newly built St. Elizabeth’s Gateway Pavilion, on the eat campus of the old hospital site.
The festival, which is headed through Broccoli City Lifestyle Group promotes a multicultural community on ways to go green and live a more health conscientious lifestyle. The group also focuses on community gardens that promote healthy eating and supporting local vendors who sell organic products.
Since 2009, Broccoli City has been executing its mission through varied blends of media, programs, events, local and national partnerships with non-profit organizations, businesses and city government agencies. Using music as a connector, they have conceptualized the festival to effectively relay their message of environmental wellness, while impacting the lives of music lovers that come from communities disproportionately affected by environmental indignity.
This year’s lineup of the festival focused on producing bigger music industry names like rapper Cam’ron and producer/DJ Just Blaze, as well as rising acts like GoldLink, Sango, and Kelela, booked by talent buyer Henny Yegezu.
Event coordinator, Darryl Perkins said, “It is good to get people together to celebrate the environment and personal health and choices people make.” The health choices Perkins is referring to include the various vendors who came to exhibit and sell their health and natural products. Some of the vendors included Woodlands Vegan Bistro, Juice Love, Karybean Kinks and Nubian Heritage. Clothing, jewelry and other product vendors were able to set up underneath the Pavilion’s open market area, where major sponsor of the event Heineken was also set up. Also present was car service, Uber, who was on hand promoting $30 worth of free travel for people who signed up.
The pop-up marketplace also featured live art installations, a 5K run, yoga, reiki and mini fitness classes. The event also hosted several food trucks where concert-goers could purchase food and take it either under the open market to eat or the green broccoli-like tables.
Last year the festival was held at the Half Street Fairgrounds in the Navy Yard area with about 5,000 attendees. This year, organizers say, the crowd grew. Volunteer Christen Hill said she attended the event last year and could definitely tell a difference in the crowd this year. “It was definitely more people and this venue definitely helped,” she said. Organizers estimate that there were at least 500 more attendees this year than last. One of the ways the festival was promoted, outside of their grassroots campaign efforts, is through the Broccoli City app, which sold discounted $20 tickets and through popular coupon website, Living Social, which also sold tickets to the event last year.
The vision for the festival is expanding for the first time this year to include Los Angeles date set for the first weekend in May.