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Asheville's Goombay Festival brings the beat to Eagle and Market streets this weekend



8/26/2011 - Asheville's Goombay Festival brings the beat to Eagle and Market streets this weekend
by Tony Kiss - Asheville Citizen Times



            ASHEVILLE -- An African-Caribbean vibe will ring across Asheville's historic Market and Eagle Street district this weekend during the 30th Goombay street party.

Stilt walkers, drummers, dancers, musicians and an assortment of food vendors and craft dealers are featured during what is arguably the city's most colorful downtown festival. As usual, it's presented by the YMI Cultural Center, which is ground zero for the Goombay fun.

The Saturday parade, starting at high noon, looks to be bigger than ever, said Goombay spokeswoman Kendra Turner. "The goal is to have 30 different groups come through," including a car carrying some of the festival's founders.

The Goombay tradition is an ancient one, traced back to Africa and then to the Caribbean. Asheville's celebration began as away to re-energize the Market and Eagle area, once the heart of the city's segregated African-American business district.

The party has grown to become one of the city's centerpiece festivals, and 40,000 to 45,000 merrymakers are expected over the three-day bash. "This is the right size," said Turner. "Some people aren't fans of the bigger festivals."

Music makers

Goombay always features a variety of live performances, including reggae, jazz, soul and gospel. Performers include Nadirah Rahman, Reggae Infinity, Santos, The Meditations, the Carolina Soul Band, Lyric, the Chuck Beattie Band, Durty Soul, the Stanley Baird Group, Zansa and Adama Dembele.

Art mural

Got an artistic urge? Goombay will offer an interactive art mural at the Mobile Art Lab starting at 5 p.m. today. The artwork will be on exhibit through the weekend.

Children's fun

Goombay is always a good place to bring your family. After the parade Saturday, head to the the Children's Fun Zone, open noon-6 p.m. Saturday at the Ray Auditorium at the YMI.

Sweet Sunday

The festival takes on a more spiritual vibe on Sunday, with a 10 a.m. church service on the festival's second stage. Gospel groups are also scheduled to perform Sunday.

Bringing Asheville together

Goombay is the biggest fundraiser for the YMI and a catalyst to draw together people of different backgrounds, said YMI board chairman Richard Fort. "I see people that I don't see as often as I would like,'' Fort said. "It allows a number of multicultural activities to take part."

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