Around town: Goombay Festival celebrates 40 years

CULTURAL CELEBRATION: The Goombay Festival will bring a variety of entertainment, including dancing and the beating of West African drums, to downtown Asheville. Photo courtesy of the YMI Cultural Center

Celebrating its 40-year anniversary, the YMI Cultural Center’s Goombay Festival returns to Pack Square Friday-Sunday, Sept. 3-5. The weekend gathering honors African and Caribbean heritage through arts and crafts, food and live performances. In addition to Pack Square, happenings will take place on The Block and inside the cultural center, 39 S. Market St. All events are free to attend.

“The weekend will showcase the diversity within the African diaspora and offer everyone a chance to experience cultural moments of celebration and community,” says Jefferson Ellison, publicist for YMI Cultural Center.

Musical highlights include DJ Chubb Rock, Shirley Murdock, Changing Faces and Asheville Community Mass Choir. Also on tap is a children’s section featuring bounce houses, arts and crafts and kids movies. More than 50 vendors from Asheville and surrounding cities will participate in the weekend celebration, as well.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, festival officials recommend that anyone who feels sick or is showing symptoms stay home. They also encourage everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing whenever possible. In accordance to the current mask mandate, face coverings will also be required at all indoor events.

The festival’s hours are Friday, Sept. 3, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 4, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 5, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

For more information, go to

How ’bout them apples?

When Hendersonville’s venerable apple festival had to cancel because of COVID-19 last year, organizers made the best of a bad situation by encouraging people to go to Henderson County’s many orchards to make purchases.

“We are happy that we had that opportunity — but it just wasn’t the same,” says David Nicholson, the festival’s executive director. “This being our 75th year, we are so excited to invite our community and other attendees to our beautiful downtown.”

The N.C. Apple Festival returns Friday-Monday, Sept. 3-6. Festivities will include a street fair, live music, a parade, a kids carnival and a recipe contest.

And of course, you can purchase apple cider, apple doughnuts, fried apple pies, apple slushies and, well, pretty much any kind of apple-based food you can think of from 14 local growers. This is an event, after all, that celebrates the annual harvest in the state’s top apple-growing county.

Live music takes place each day, noon-8 p.m. Headliners include Buddy K Band on Friday, FlashBack on Saturday, and The Super 60s followed by The Mighty Kicks on Sunday.

Six planes from the Bandit Flight Team will also fly in formation above Main Street on Saturday at noon. A patriotic musical tribute on the Historic Courthouse stage will coincide with the flyover.

“When the parade and other pieces of the street fair had to be canceled last year, our team was still able to provide a parade in the sky. This year we are thrilled to return and fly over the Apple Festival,” says Jim Kilpatrick, team leader.

The King Apple Parade will, as always, be the grand finale on Monday at 2:30 p.m., with special emphasis on community members who have played critical roles throughout the pandemic.

For more information, go to avl.tgo/aaq.

Weaverville to open new community center

The Weaverville Community Center will host its grand opening at Lake Louise on Monday, Sept. 6, at 11 a.m. Working with a new nonprofit, Weaverville Center for Creative and Healthy Living, the center will offer plenty of programs led by local volunteer instructors, coaches, musicians, storytellers and more.

“Many have already volunteered, from teaching yoga and tai chi to leading choirs and community theater,” says Brian Muys, vice chair of the WCCHL. “We hope that family game nights and possible math and reading camps will help both students and parents during these difficult times of hybrid classrooms and distance learning.”

The community center will serve as a home base for the WCCHL. “By bringing people to the new center through these programs, we also hope those same folks will patronize local merchants while in town, including our long-standing tailgate farmers market,” Muys says.

For more information, visit

Birds of a feather

Shannon McKerlie of Mars Hill was sitting on her back porch with her wife when the couple spotted a bluebird and a cardinal in the same nest. Inspiration struck.

“I immediately thought it was a good representation of an ‘abnormal’ relationship, and how love always finds a way to overcome obstacles,” says McKerlie. The result was Betty Bluebird and Carl Cardinal, a 30-page children’s hardcover book recently published by RoseDog Books.

In the book, Betty and Carl are in love, but everyone keeps telling them they shouldn’t be together because of their differences.

“As an LGBTQ individual, I’ve had my relationships judged, looked down upon and even legislated against,” says McKerlie, a first-time author. “I wanted to share a story that would show children that they deserve love, no matter what others say about the relationships they pursue.”

To learn more about the book, visit

Everything Zen

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center will present Don’t Blame it on ZEN: The Way of John Cage & Friends starting Friday, Sept. 3, and running through January.

The exhibit will focus on the legendary composer’s studies in Zen Buddhism and the ways in which those studies impacted generations of artists, says Kate Averett, outreach manager for BMCM+AC. Presented alongside Cage’s work will be multimedia pieces by artists such as Yoko Ono, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Robert Rauschenberg, Nam June Paik and Matana Roberts.

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is at 120 College St., Asheville. For more information, visit

Mural majority

The Friends of Downtown Hendersonville is seeking help picking a design for a Fifth Avenue sidewalk mural.

After receiving many proposals for the mural, the group is asking people to vote on their favorite design among nine finalists. The mural, funded by an AARP Community Challenge grant, is designed to build a pedestrian connection between the two downtown commercial districts.

Mural designs will be on display at the City Operations Center during the Hendersonville City Council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 2, and at the annual Community Fest at Sullivan Park on Sunday, Sept. 5.  Voting ends Monday, Sept. 6.

You can cast your vote at






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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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One thought on “Around town: Goombay Festival celebrates 40 years

  1. LowerCrust

    As with LEAF last week… Goombay is a great event, but with COVID case numbers and hospitalizations still growing rapidly, it is very poor timing.

    I can only imagine the effort and resources that have already gone to into the planning and execution of something like this, and that makes it difficult, costly, and heartbreaking. However, I wish planners and sponsors had opted to postpone it, and that the city and county would step in, not only to encourage postponement, but (where possible) to use some of the COVID relief to compensate where appropriate, if that will help keep local organizations and businesses whole.

    Thanks to the Blue Ridge Pride organizers for doing the right thing in cancelling their festival and related events.

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