Headed to Durag Fest? You better dress to impress.

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Photo by Chris Smalls
The 2018 Durag Fest.

Local artist and BLK MRKT co-owner Dammit Wesley and his team of collaborators are bringing a second installation of Durag Fest to Camp North End on Saturday from 4-10 p.m. The spectacular event full of fashion, food, art and music had almost a thousand attendees last year and garnered national attention for its ingenuity.

Durag Fest started last year, when a group of notable Charlotte-area creatives — including Wesley, Lica Redfern of Ghood Girl Magic, Blk MRKT co-owner Will Jenkins and local favorite DJ Fannie Mae — put together a festival to celebrate Juneteenth by uplifting and showcasing African American culture and talent in the Charlotte community.  

Durag Fest is an inclusive celebration of Juneteeth, the commemoration of the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans in the United States in June 1865 — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth celebrations have been increasing in popularity since the 1980s, and the Durag Fest team is working to bring this holiday to the mainstream.

“We’re trying to reintroduce Juneteenth to turn it into an actual traditional American holiday,” Wesley said.   

Wesley stressed that this holiday is for everyone to celebrate, not just people of color.

“You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate in St. Patrick’s day, and you don’t need to be Christian to celebrate Christmas,” he said. “Come to Camp North End, put on a durag, put on a hat, have a hair wrap on, put yourself in a situation where … you’re not necessarily culturally appropriating but are celebrating appropriately with a culture.”

Attendants are encouraged to embrace the fest’s theme of being the “Met Gala of Durags” by dressing to impress.

“We have a community of people that dress up to be a part of the event but more to be a part of the art,” Wesley said. “This is an event where the exhibition extends beyond the walls into the actual crowd.”

Photo by Gavin Boulware
Will Jenkins, Lica Redfern and Dammit Wesley are among the organizers of this year’s Durag Fest.

If you don’t have a durag, you can buy one from a market featuring both wearable and decorative pieces from emerging and high-profile artists and designers. Last year, designer Evita Loca designed a durag for the festival that went on to be featured in Refinery29’s nationally acclaimed 29Rooms exhibition.

Durag Fest expects to see twice as many attendants this year and will fill Camp North End with two stages of music curated by DJ Fannie Mae, a multimedia art show, a market, a pop-up hair salon with a celebrity barber, a VIP lounge sponsored by Dupp and Swat and several interactive “activations.” These activations include Twerksanity, an interactive twerking class open to all attendants, and a wave check, where guests can ceremoniously take off their durags to unveil their hairstyles on the main stage and compete for best waves. Guests can participate in the wave check by signing up before 6 p.m.  

The bar will be serving up a series of signature cocktails designed for the event by local mixologist Super Yosh 4-10 p.m.  There will be a selection of food options available from Urban City Grill, 225 Street Food, King of Pops, Pelicans Sno Cones, Slush Rush Scooter Snacks and more. For an extra $15, you can get a catered brunch by 225 Street Food from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. the day of the fest. The menu features a chicken and waffle bar with speciality waffle flavors, such as a honey bun waffle, a push pop waffle and a cookies and cream waffle.

General admission tickets are $20, and a $40 VIP ticket will get you access to the Dupp and Swat VIP lounge, a free drink ticket, private DJ, happy hour specials, and more.  

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