Update: Goombay Festival Back on Track

We’re excited and relieved to inform you that the situation with the Goombay Festival liquor license and security (described below) has been positively resolved.

  • The liquor license was approved in time for it to be applicable to the event.
  • Chief David Zack and City Manager Debra Campbell also worked with YMI to find creative solutions to the security issues so that YMI could remain in compliance with new city policing regulations for Outdoor Special Events.
  • Chief Zack reported that he had received “hundreds of emails” about this issue from RJC supporters.

YMI Executive Director Dewana Little had this to say to RJC and its supporters: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all your support. The community really came through. And we are so grateful that you stepped up, especially on such short notice.” 

We’re also full of appreciation and pride in the rapid response from our supporters. We also believe that acknowledgement and thanks are due to Chief Zack, along with City Manager Debra Campbell, who supported this resolution. Here is an email template you can adapt and send (or copy and paste the content below). You can also call the Chief at 828-259-5813 and the City Manager at 828-259-5604.

Click here to activate the email template (or simply copy and paste)

Email addresses: AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov, dcampbell@ashevillenc.gov, dzack@ashevillenc.gov

Subject: Thanks for Supporting Goombay

Dear Chief Zack and City Manager Campbell,

I’m writing to thank you for supporting this year’s Goombay Festival, by making sure the organizers were able to get their liquor license and a workable security plan. The Goombay Festival is one of Asheville’s most important traditions, a celebration of African American culture and an opportunity to honor racial equity, visibility, inclusion, and belonging. I appreciate you doing your part to make sure this year’s festival can move forward.


Your Name

Original Post (8/17/22)

Please join us in supporting our friends at the YMI Cultural Center, the lead organizers of this year’s Goombay Festival, this region’s yearly celebration of African Americans in Western North Carolina – and one of the longest running festivals in our area

This year’s Goombay Festival will be its 41st, making it one of the longest-running festivals in our region. It is planned for Labor Day weekend, just over two weeks away. But it might not happen at all because of opposition from Asheville Police Department (APD) Chief David Zack, who is refusing to approve the Festival’s liquor license.

What’s getting in the way?

  • Police Department approval of the Festival’s security plan: The first challenge is that APD has increased their security fee to over $11,000, roughly twice as much as in previous years. The police have refused to lower or waive this fee. YMI is scrambling to raise the necessary funds or come up with another security plan.
  • Police Department approval of the Festival’s liquor license: As a result of the first challenge, the Chief is refusing to sign off on a liquor license for the festival, which needs to be filed two weeks before the event. Chief Zack is claiming that he can’t approve the liquor license until the security plan has been approved, but this simply isn’t true. If he isn’t satisfied with the security plan after having approved the liquor license, he doesn’t have to approve the security plan, and the event would have to be canceled. 
  • Being able to sell alcohol is one of the primary ways that Goombay is able to make money, and without that capacity, the success of the Festival will be in jeopardy. The license must be applied for and approved now, or it will be too late. The security plan can be worked out and approved on a looser timeline. The YMI is hard at work on a plan to avoid this result, but if they are blocked from getting a liquor license now, all of these efforts will be in vain.

Contact Chief Zack and other City officials today and urge them to work with YMI to make sure the Goombay Festival is a success, rather than throwing up roadblocks that threaten to undermine and prevent that success. (These instructions now outdated, please see above.) We’ve prepared an email template that you can personalize and send by clicking here (or you can copy and paste the text below). You can also call the Chief directly at 828-259-5813.