We love how much positive feedback we received about out blog series last year, so we are BACK with less than 3 weeks away to give you a taste of what you can expect at Xpand Fest 2019!
This first blog starts with a focus on arts and culture, which is truly one of the biggest keys to this event. While we see Xpand Fest as an economic driver (wanna know more about what that means- check out our blog post on how festivals can drive the economy here!)- We believe art is what identifies a community, which in turn defines a culture. Asheville is rapidly growing and changing, there is no denying that- and while that can be a scary thing- it also gives us a huge opportunity to think deeply and act with intention when creating our new culture. While I am sure everyone can think of something they love and something they really wish they could see change about our town- I want to remind you that community events, like Xpand Fest- are here for us to have those authentic conversations and vision together what we truly believe our town needs.
What better way to do that than to highlight the local arts and culture scene in our town? Outside of the headline performers, Dynamo, every act is locally based and is chosen with intention. Our goal is to highlight (and pay living wages to) our diverse local arts community while giving Xpand Fest the ability to garner nationwide awareness with an out of town act.
Dynamo is a Nashville-based, nationally touring band whose music fuses jazz, rock, and funk with elements of soul and R&B. The culmination is a sound that’s both spontaneous and composed—and an energy that’s undeniably infectious and reminds us of Asheville. We think they will be the best band to help close out the Xpand Stage (sponsored by Octopus Garden) for our 3rd annual event! They will be gracing the stage alongside locals, The Get Right Band, April B. and the Cool, Emma’s Lounge, Sirius.B, and The Snozzberries. Other musical acts you will see on June 8th include Magenta Sunshine, Appalucians, Upland Drive, Queen Bee & The Honeylovers, The Digs, Galena, Dyado, Gruda Tree, Polly Panic, Eleanor Underhill & Friends. We loved the diverse bands that applied to perform (we curate our music with a handpicked selection committee) and hope you’ll find something new to fall in love with at the event!
Since it is our 3rd year there are a few things that are returning that have become staples of this creative community event, including our dance compilation that has occurred on the main stage since year one and returning since last year, our festival-wide Lantern parade. This year’s dance compilation begins and ends with an aerial arts performance by Empyrean Arts followed by dancers from one of our biggest partners, Open Hearts Art Center. You can also expect solo performances by Lisa Zahiya and Claire Dima as well as entertainment from Asheville Vaudeville, Studio Zahiya.
Zabumba will perform in the dance performance as well as help lead the lantern parade (no open flames please!), organized by Street Creature Puppets that begins at Dusk at the entrance of the festival! If you’re the creative type, you can even attend one of TWO workshops to make your own lantern for the festival before the event!
If that doesn’t feel like enough to fill you to the brim with art and culture we have MORE! Across the festival (indoors and out!) we have a scavenger hunt (more to come on that) a variety of unique activations we’d love to highlight here.
If you’re making your way into the festival on Coxe Avenue where Zapow and Twin Leaf Brewery are, as most people will, one of the first things you will encounter is our welcome sign. On the back of the sign is an interactive art piece we are encouraging your input on! The instructions will tell you to go inside Zapow to their activation station where you will find paper keys to put thoughts, intentions, and words for how you believe we can preserve the arts here in Asheville. Then, you can take back and add your key to our interactive art piece! Once you’ve set your intention for the festival and the arts in Asheville, you might as well pass by our Information booth to check out our merchandise options, INCLUDING on-site live screen printing of Xpand Fest 2019 t-shirts. This is done by one of our local vendors, sponsors and small businesses, Grifttown Goods and you are definitely not going to want to miss this one time chance to pick up 2019’s shirt!
As you continue to roam the fest, you’ll also find unique and engaging activations/roving performances by Mountain Circus Arts, a sick new vending trailer by Octopus Garden, community activities by Art Studio World and an interactive gallery by Zed AVL. Mojo Coworking in partnership with Skyrunner is offering a co-working lounge with free wi-fi and Americal Vinyl Co is bringing their sound truck! HumansandPoetry are even hosting an Asheville All Start Slam on our amazing Manifest Stage (Instant Karma‘s Music Bus!) for those of you who want even more variety! Phew, tired yet?
And if that wasn’t enough, one of the most engaging areas of the entire festival will be the Artist Designing Evolution (adé PROJECT): Listening Lounge that will take place in and around The Refinery Creator Space. From 12 – 8pm during Xpand Fest, a variety of engaging activities panel discussions and art collaborations will take place, including but not limited to –Valeria Watson, a powerful local black artist who will be co-creating “Affrilachia”, an outdoor market and installation at the intersection of the sacred, healing, and visual arts, while Different Wrld‘s young founder, Kiara Edison, will discuss the importance of engaging young artists of color in our modern landscape, along with other panelists from around our community. Other things not to miss include tarot readings from the Earth Warrior Deck, a community library, a community quilt project with Jenny Pickens, eco-soul art with The Soul & Soil Project, a community art project hosted by Roots & Wings: School of Art + Design, and so much more!
Rounding the night up is an after-party at Ben’s Tune-Up featuring, Sister Ivy, an Encore performance by Emma’s Lounge with some special guests and rounding out the night is someone to play the classic vinyl tunes we all know and love, DJ Kilby.
More to come the next few weeks until Xpand Fest June 8, 2019!
Johanna Hagarty, Executive Director