Durag Fest founder Dammit Wesley wants to help Black people be their most authentic selves at one of the most culturally dope events of the year. 

Durag Fest was launched in 2018 as a Juneteenth celebration. 

“The concept was supposed to be a Juneteenth art exhibition, and it ballooned into this whole festival,” Wesley told QCity Metro. 

The crowd at Durag Fest has grown year by year with the first year having 1200 attendees and the most recent event having between 8,000 to 10,000 people throughout the day.

Can you share more about what Durag Fest is?

Initially, the concept was for it to be a Juneteenth art exhibition and from promotion and people involved it ballooned into a whole festival,” said Wesley. We named it “Durag Fest” because we want people to come out and party. After that first year, we went viral. Black people were celebrated in a way they usually weren’t.

What can people expect when they come to the event?

If it’s your first time attending expect to see a lot of fashion looks. People like to come up with their own themes either on their own or as groups of friends. One of my favorite things is seeing the Black goths come out decked out in durags. I just think it’s lovely.

It’s just one of those things you have to experience. It’s not too often you get to see Black folk or just people of color, in general, being their unapologetic selves in an environment that encourages that kind of behavior. 

What are you most excited about this year? 

This year we’re collaborating with Mad Miles Run Club. We’re going to do a two-mile run that morning. I want to be able to take pictures of beautiful Black folk with their capes flying in the wind. 

What makes Charlotte significant to this event?

One of the special things about Charlotte is that for the longest time it was the biggest city in the south outside of Atlanta. If you were from South Carolina or rural North Carolina, Charlotte was like this shining city on a hill; it was like a citadel. 

One of the big things that encouraged me to move here was seeing Kings of Comedy with my church and the performers name dropping Charlotte. If it’s good enough for Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac, why not me? 

From talking to the natives and learning the history, I understand why it was such an important place. I want to celebrate the city’s blindspots and recognize the folk that made this city what it is. 

If You Go

Date: Saturday, June 18
Place: Camp North End
Time: Starts at 10 a.m. and goes all day
Cost: Free (special events and VIP $18 – $30)
More info: visit the event website

Amanda was born and raised in Charlotte and graduated from UNC Charlotte with a Bachelor’s in Communications and English. She covers Mecklenburg County. Reach her at amanda@qcitymetro.com

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