COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A local nonprofit organization is having a four-day celebration honoring Ohio’s Black community in downtown Columbus this Memorial Day weekend.
The Ohio Black Expo and Riverfront Culture Fest kicks off on Thursday and runs through Sunday, including a business conference, youth summit, golf classic and a networking happy hour. The family-friendly event aims to engage Ohio’s 1.7 million Black residents and raise funds for year-round programs and scholarships.
Sherri Hamilton, president of Ohio Black Expo, told NBC4 that goal of the weekend is “to be the solution, or part of the solution, in solving” problems impacting Ohio’s Black community.
This year’s expo is the largest ever with 50% more vendor space than previous years, Hamilton said. The expo is traditionally a great boost for participating businesses, with vendors reporting around $250,000 in sales.
Too Good Eats is just one vendor of more than 100 attending the festivities. This year is their second appearance at the expo and they’re hoping for a repeat in sales.
“We sold out each day so we’re super excited,” said Anique Russell, co-founder of Too Good Eats. “But, ultimately, we are excited to really have a focus on Black businesses.”
The first two days of the celebration on Thursday and Friday take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center with a business conference, youth summit and wellness workshop. In addition, the expo is hosting The State of Black Ohio at the convention center on Friday to teach participants about education health and economic development.
On Saturday and Sunday, the event heads to Genoa Park for the Riverfront Culture Fest. View the full lineup of this weekend’s events below.
Level Up Business Conference
Greater Columbus Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday
- Presented by Aventi Enterprises, the conference is designed for Black business owners and will focus on building economic impact.
Level Up Youth Summit
Greater Columbus Convention Center from 6 to 9 p.m.
- Hosted by the ONUS Project, the event includes food and music for youth ages 13 to 18. Participants can learn more about youth groups, summer job opportunities, career and college information and more.
The State of Black Ohio
Greater Columbus Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday
- Attendees will develop strategic, long term, innovative solutions and action steps to solve systemic and institutional issues in business, education, health, tech, and the arts with thought, corporate, and community leaders, academics, entrepreneurs, high school and college students, elected officials.
Westchester Golf Course from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday
- A four person scramble hosted by Walking in My Blessings. The event includes a light breakfast, awards, swag bags and more.
Health and Wellness Workshop
Greater Columbus Convention Center from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday
- For all ages, the free workshop is including discussions on nutrition, maternal health, diet, physical fitness, mental wellness and more.
Happy Hour Networking
Citywide Black-owned businesses from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday
- The expo is hosting four happy hours mixers at Ground and Grind in Olde Towne East, Marvin’s in south Columbus, Flavor 91 in Whitehall and Marlow’s in Gahanna.
Official Kick-off Party
Greater Columbus Convention Center at 6 p.m. on Friday
- Friday’s event is hosted by Grown Folks Events with two rooms of entertainment, including Djs, live music and line dancing.
- Tickets are required and guests are advised to enter through the doors near the corner of Goodale Street and North High Street.
Riverfront Culture Fest
Genoa Park from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday
- The culture fest opens with a parade at noon on Saturday at the corner of Civic Center Drive and Rich Street.
- More than 100 vendors and 20 food trucks will be on site for the festival. The fest is also hosting concerts featuring Smokie Norful, Kevin Ross, KRS-One & Sheila E.
- Ohio’s own Bone Thugs-N-Harmony will be honored during a A 50 Year Hip Hop Tribute at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday. This Hall of Fame tribute will also recognize Hi-Tek and feature Ohio legends J. Rawls and Mix Master Ice of UTFO.