Posted on: June 20, 2024 Posted by: Sese Wilder Comments: 6

Broccoli City Festival is a certified cultural staple that has turned the DMV area into the place to be for the perfect summer friend group trip. Celebrating its 10th year in 2023, the festival continues to solidify itself as a premiere music festival for the people and strives to surpass expectations year after year. With past major headlining acts such as Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, Jazmine Sullivan, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, and many more, Broccoli City has built a unique brand known for its incredible lineups! Bridging the gap between music, culture, community engagement, and environmental sustainability, Broccoli City has positioned itself as a conglomerate that the entertainment industry will see much more of for years to come.

As we prepare for Broccoli City Fest 2024, taking place July 27-28th in Washington, D.C., UPSCALE got a chance to speak with founder Brandon McEachern and co-founder Jermon Williams on their love for the culture and their excitement for the brand’s expansion.

UPSCALE: Tell me about the beginnings of Broccoli City festival and how such a festival idea and brand came to life?

Brandon McEachern: So initially, you know broccoli city. It stems from a place called Greensboro, North Carolina. The green is the broccoli and the borough is the city. But the consensus of us doing the festival, when it first started, was about Earth Day. It was about community. It was about finding a place for us. At that time, there weren’t too many things that kind of spoke to, I guess I would say, not necessarily a regular Black person, but somebody who just love music. You know what I’m saying? Be outside. May have went to a HBCU, may have a job, may be unemployed, but loves a certain type of, like, music and a certain type of esthetic. It was really nothing for us at that time. So when we started the festival it was all about community and developing a place for us to let our hair down for a  lack of better terms.

Jermon Williams: You know, those origins him and mark, our partner, Marcus Allen, they came up with like, that iconic Broccoli City name and sort of the the whole vibe that you’ve come to sort of know and love about BC. So over time, you know, as myself and Darryl Perkins, as we, met B and Mark, we became a part of the movement. We came in helping to ideate around and wanting to learn how to scale up, and how to continue to push that vision forward.

UPSCALE: Broccoli City fest as a brand is more than just music, and you guys have positioned yourself as a brand to highlight other areas of importance, such as environmental sustainability, community health and business development. Tell us about how all of those components tie into the brand and the impact it has on DC and the neighboring areas?

Brandon McEachern: We don’t take ourselves too seriously. And the fact of the matter is that it’s not all about us, if that makes sense. And those community pillars that you named, everything from the sustainability to, you know, the conferences that we do all that stuff, it’s community building, it’s impact. Those things actually matter. And they do end up coming to a head, kind of, at the festival, right? With young interns that we’ve worked with. You know, I remember interns that we had back in the day now, they are over at Def Jam, or working at Interscope, or whatever the case may be. Them being able to work with us through all of those channels, whether it be the festival or you came to the conference and you helped set up a table, whatever the case may be, right, like those things yet again, just keep adhering to the word community. And when they all come together, they form somewhat of a Broccoli City, which is a mini city within itself.

Jermon Williams: I mean, just to add to that, you know, even on just the employment services side of things. In addition to the interns, you know, working with DC employment services this year to provide opportunities for people who just, are looking for a check, right, who aren’t necessarily looking at breaking through the space, but, you know, with the economy, just being able to provide, you know, people you know, with those types of job opportunities. That’s something we’re proud of.

UPSCALE: Broccoli City has many components and you guys are kind of branching out into these different expansions. Tell us about Think Broccoli, LLC and how did it originate? 

Brandon McEachern: Think Broccoli is really just the mastermind behind Broccoli City, you know, as well as another program that we have, that we’re extremely proud of and that’s our We Chip’N program. It’s essentially an app or a platform that you can go to, and you can donate your time to be able to earn tickets, to concerts, festivals or shows in DC, or, Broccoli City or the Roots Picnic. And you can do all this just by watching a video about your health. You can watch a 15 minute video and earn, 100 or so chips, and then be able to use those chips, hence the word We Chip’ N, to be able to buy your ticket. You know what I’m saying, obviously, for your time. We are just trying to innovate, do something super cool.

UPSCALE: As HBCU alum’s, how did your time at your respective schools prepare you for the work that you do now and bringing the Broccoli City festival vision to life?

Brandon McEachern: I went to North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. And I guess I would say one of the things that I got from my school was, confidence. I mean, to be able to kind of go out there and live my dreams and have the audacity and the gall to even say something like this could be possible, right? I think you get a lot of that from that HBCU background theater, you know what I mean. So I wasn’t scared to get booed by our people. I knew what time it was. And I think when you can do stuff in front of us, you can do stuff anywhere. They say, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. If you can get on a stage or survive a homecoming at a historically Black school, then the world is yours.

Jermon Williams: To build on what B just said. I think perseverance. I went to Livingstone College, which is also in North Carolina. It’s a small school. And, you know, when I think about being a sport management marketing major, some of the opportunities that were provided to me and my classmates weren’t the ones we looked at and wanted.  We weren’t provided the NFL opportunities but we were provided the YMCAs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, you know, the bar was lower, and so for me, pushing our department to think bigger, but also not stopping at the department. I took advantage of every opportunity and learned from those we did have access to. So HBCUs really taught us how to find a way and make one, and that skill set translates into how, you know, Mark and B and we’ve all kind of moved with Broccoli City.

 

UPSCALE: What has been your most challenging part about being in the music festival industry, and what have you learned about yourselves personally as you’ve undertaken this journey?

Brandon McEachern: Obviously, we wanted to do an Earth Day Festival and something positive in our community when we were starting out and talking to certain brands trying to get sponsorships, but that was something they weren’t trying to hear. Like, Oh, Black people and being healthy and positive didn’t make sense to them. So that was extremely challenging at first, but now they understand that African Americans are multifaceted. You know what I mean? We can be all of these things; obviously, our demographic is the trendsetter. We are the ones that make everything pop, from technology to movies and anything; it’s always through us first. As far as myself, in terms of just festival business, I have a tough time saying no to people. From a financial aspect, denying people entry or something of that nature, but obviously having to understand that I’m running a business. I’ve had to put that hat on and find a balance between wanting to give everybody everything and understanding I must still turn the lights on.  So that’s been a battle that I’ve gone through and something that I’m still dealing with, just the whole monetization of something that is me. Culture is us. It’s you, it’s Jermon, it’s who we are. So it feels strange when you’re talking about selling something that’s you. 

Jermon Williams: Humility, for me, has been my biggest lesson. When you think of something starting so organically, like a BC fest, and anything like a BC fest, you want it to grow and scale. You know you need partnerships, right? It would help if you had alliances that could get you to the next level. And so, B and Mark, you know, built a relationship with Live Nation, and now, as partners, we’re working together to achieve a common goal. Being able to yield and understand that this isn’t just you and four or five or six people’s interest anymore, right, the way it was when we started it. We were in the weeds on everything; now, it has many stakeholders. And that’s what you want, so understanding the many helping hands now cooking this thing will produce various results. Just understanding the recipes is going to vary. It’s not just one cookie-cutter approach anymore. Being open to all that and understanding your role in this bigger universe that we have now have been the biggest lessons I’ve learned. It is a smooth ride once you know that and accept it. And you know, just seeing how many young people we got involved now and who are on my team telling me, like, no, that’s not a good idea.  It was tough to let go and let God, so to speak. 

UPSCALE: The festival will be taking place in a new venue this year. Tell us about the upgrades this venue adds to the festival, and tell us what we can expect from attending this year?

Brandon McEachern: We are trying to reshape and reformat what you think about when you come to festivals. When you go to festivals, you know, usually you’re in a parking lot or a grass Park area, watching a stage. We’re trying to flip that on his head, being that we are in a new stadium, giving people the option to sit down the entire time, and something like that has never been seen. But also to get up, go through the corridors, and then get back up and sit back down. So I’m super excited about that part, as well as those live experiences and just our programming in terms of the screen, like, the show that’s going to be happening, this is going to be a great show. Obviously, it’s a festival, but it will be a show. You will be thoroughly entertained from the time you get there to the time you leave. Space is going to be amazing with tons of food vendors. I mean, all the stuff that we usually have. I’m super excited about the content and the programming that you’re going to be able to enjoy at this festival. So we look forward to this new format.

Jermon Williams: Shout out to Converse. Converse has come through for us with a partnership that we are excited about. They really believe in what we’re doing. So, a big shout out to Converse. They are our presenting sponsors this year, so we’re super excited to have them on board. It’s going to be cool. But again, I look forward to people experiencing this new festival and being able to sit, stand, drink, and walk.  So, yeah, I’m excited for people to come and check it out. 

UPSCALE: In a world now where we see so many music festivals, what makes Broccoli City stand out from the rest?

Brandon McEachern: I’m going to say the people, personally, the type of person that goes to Broccoli City and knows about Broccoli City, that’s just a special individual.  I don’t know if it’s just because of that DMV area, and everybody got a cousin, a mama, a sister, somebody in that area, but I think that the people have really made Broccoli City into what it is. From lobbyists to somebody in the Go-Go band, I think it’s touched a broad spectrum of folks within our community. And then I think we do a hell of a job with talent and getting the right talent at the right time. So, I think all of that kind of alludes to it.

Jermon Williams: I’ll add the purpose too. As we’ve gotten bigger, we’ve remained true to the core with our programming surrounding the festival leading up to it year-round. I think about the campaign we have this year called “Road to Broccoli,” which highlights and features fitness events, community events, and many concert-like events. Between now and then, and then, also, I think about, you know, some of the vendors, right? For example, where on earth are you going to see a United States Tennis Association, you know, vending at a music festival? But the whole purpose, the reason why they’re there, is because our missions are aligned. They’re all about inclusivity, so they want to push the game of tennis to our community, and we want to help introduce it further. We want to be that bridge. We’ve always been a bridge, and we’ve always caught ourselves bridging a gap between, you know, us and them. And so, you know, we continue to hold true to that. 

 

UPSCALE: What do you guys want Broccoli City festival’s legacy to be?

Brandon McEachern: I want it to be impactful. Like I want to have done something for you. You know what I mean? We want to touch folks in a way that makes sense to them then. That’s what I want the legacy of Broccoli City to be. Is that, at some point in my life, I either went and had a great time, or I met somebody, I met a business partner. I want it to be positive.

 

Stay up to date on all things Broccoli City Festival and purchase tickets at https://www.bcfestival.com/ or on Ticketmaster by clicking here. Be sure to follow them on all social platforms as @broccolicity.

 

If you enjoyed reading this article be sure leave a comment!

Always in wordly love,

Sese Wilder

6 People reacted on this

  1. Wonderful article! It beautifully captured the essence of Broccoli City and what they stand for!

  2. I never heard of this festival in DC but I will tell my son and daughter. This is a great read hearing of young Black men doing noble things for the community and culture.

  3. Thank you so much for your comment. Yes Upscale supports our community nationwide. I’m sure they will be glad to have you and your family to attend. Have a blessed and happy day.

    Upscale

  4. I live in PG county an everyone knows how integral this festival is to the area. Awesome young men who are leading it and I’m excited to attend now that it’s moved further to a better summer date and not clumped with other festivals. Great writing on these kings.

  5. Usually I do not read post on blogs, but I would like
    to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thanks, very nice article.

Leave a Comment