Oregon is known for many things, its picturesque landscapes that make every window view feel like a Bob Ross painting, its vibrant festival culture, and its homogeny. Perhaps kissing the northern tip of California makes the latter more glaring. So many may pass up the beautiful landscapes, delicious wines, and majestic coastlines for our southern neighbor — thinking the diversity of experiences may be greater there.
But they would be mistaken.
Oregon has a rich complicated history and vibrant diverse culture. What more, the people in Oregon, and specifically Cascade and Coast communities, thrive on making their colorful fabric of cultural offerings supported and known. Nowhere is this more evident than with Eugene’s annual Black Cultural Festival, a festival that is uniquely one of a kind in the Pacific Northwest.
There are countless stories to be told about how amazing community collaborations have come to make this event one of the most anticipated… and (would it be biased to say) one of the best festivals the area has to offer in 2022. As autumn and winter come upon us, I plan to tell those behind the scene stories. However for now, just a few days before the festival, may we proverbially salivate at its offerings?
Visitors will be emersed in a feast for the senses, mind and soul. There will be Anansi Beat’s six person African drum and dance troop from Ghana, aerial silk performances, equine therapy, guided river tours with Willamette River Keeper, guided meditation and yoga, archery, tons of opportunities to link with organizations serving the Black community, traditional African diasporic foods (including vegan soul food), chess, and even financial literacy classes.
The Youth Zone is set to feature art workshops with professional artists, a huge swag giveaway in conjunction with Lane AABSS, an instrument petting zoo compliments of the Eugene Symphony, a toddler play place, and children’s exploration museum. The festival is offering a huge raffle with giveaways that include everything from flight vouchers to bicycles and free local memberships to some of the region's most coveted hot spots.
One of the jewels of the event is the five-room, 100 plus sq ft "Museum Without Walls" installation featuring breathtaking art by local Black artists and historical pieces which challenge the heart. It is sure to pleasantly touch the palettes of art enthusiasts and historians alike. The list is almost endless.
At the Black Cultural Festival Black joy, excellence, pride and love are celebrated. It is an event created by the Black community for our people, but also a place where our families, close friends and allies can gather with us and bask in the human weave of threads that make Eugene, Oregon, and America great.
We hope to see you there… However if you miss out, I will be sure to tell you all about it! And of course, there is always next year.