BLACK: A Festival of Joy returns for its second year this weekend.
In a vibrant celebration of joy and unity, the second annual BLACK: a Festival of Joy returns to the Taggart Amphitheatre at Riverside Park on July 9 from 3-9 p.m. The festival, which aims to cultivate a comfortable atmosphere for Black joy, will include a variety of the city’s Black-owned food trucks, business vendors, musicians, artists, dancers and more, said Nigel Long, festival co-chair and creative director of Black Joy Indy.
“The idea is that through this kind of event — through things like Black Joy Indy — that not only just happen once a year, that we can really start to make this a movement and not a moment,” Long said.
The festival celebrated its first year in the summer of 2022 after Pamela Ross, vice president of community leadership and equitable initiatives for Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), proposed the idea of a festival celebrating something simple but often neglected: Black joy.
Ross came up with the idea after hearing some of the negative narratives surrounding challenges in the Black community — especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said there was a “deficit of language” in how Black people are still finding joy in the midst of those challenges and said she decided to do something to remedy that.
“It’s not a new space for the Black community to find joy as a space of resilience,” Ross said. “I then … approached GANGGANG first with the essence of them knowing the people who should be at the table, all Black art creatives from different spaces, many of them have not worked together, coming to a table to create an event that would celebrate Black joy and all its many facets.”
To those planning to attend again or for the first time, Long said to expect a “super-sized family reunion.” Similar to last year, BLACK: A Festival of Joy will include a lineup of Black-owned food trucks and vendors but with the addition of a food truck and dessert competition. Attendees will also have the luxury of a variety of local live entertainment to enjoy all day long — from musicians and bands to DJs spinning a tribute to the 50-year anniversary of hip-hop and national B-Girl PepC.
Long said they will give out Black Trailblazer awards to members of the community in addition to announcing the Black Joy Fund, which awards $25,000 in grants to other community focused events that aim to highlight and celebrate Black joy in Indianapolis year-round.
“That is a committee of … artists and creatives who come together, and they grant these dollars to individuals who are already doing the work,” Ross said. “We wanted to not create something like it’s new but that organizations are already out here, creating spaces of Black joy, and how do we support that?”
Applications for the grant open on July 8 and close on Aug. 8. Long said winners would be announced Sept. 8.
The festival will also include business and social justice vendors where guests can shop and find resources. A family photo station will be set up where attendees can get professional portraits taken, as well as a collage making station, an area for roller skating, a kid’s zone and life-sized board games.
“It’s gonna be a place where people can come and be unapologetically Black in their own way,” Long said. “We’re not just all the same and so, again, like just creating a space where people can gather and be themselves and not have to worry about anything else besides just having a good time.”
BLACK: A Festival of Joy takes place July 9 from 3-9 p.m. at Taggart Memorial Amphitheatre at Riverside Regional Park, 1856 Burdsal Parkway. Admission is free, and attendees may RSVP at facebook.com/blackjoyindy. For more information, visit blackjoyindy.com
This story has been updated to reflect the date change of BLACK: A Festival of Joy.
Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.