Only the Freshest: Fresh Fest returns for second year of multicultural fun, music, activities

The inaugural 2019 Fresh Fest brought awareness to local, freshly grown and made food, celebrated the arts, and acknowledged three friends who took some land in the Forgotten Triangle in the Kinsman neighborhood and turned it into a thriving, sustainable—and constantly growing—farm and destination, Rid-All Green Partnership.  

<span class="content-image-text">Fresh Fest Cleveland 2019</span>Fresh Fest Cleveland 2019The event was such a success—drawing more than 6,000 people to the farm—that organizers are bringing the free daylong 2021 Fresh Fest back to Rid-All Farm and Otter Park again on Saturday, Sept. 11. 

“We’re excited to get back out—we were disappointed that we had to cancel in 2020,” says Kim Foreman, one of the Fresh Fest organizers and executive director of Environmental Health Watch. “I really wanted to maintain the energy of the festival in year one because we got some very positive feedback and people are still talking about it.”

Rid-All co-founder and executive director Keymah Durden says that after this past year, people should be eager to get out and celebrate. “Folks have been quarantines and isolated,” he says. “This is a chance to reunite, to breathe again, and be around people in a positive environment.”

Even though Rid-All decided to cancel Fresh Fest last year because of the pandemic, Foreman says they are keeping the momentum going in 2021—coming back stronger than ever with live music, food, and events for people of all ages and walks of life.

Grammy award-winning DJ, producer, rapper, and writer Spinderella will headline on the Fresh Fest 2021 stage, along with performances by local favorites, Kyle Kidd, Gumbo Dance Party, Chelsea Pastel, Red Rose Panic, and Jah Messengers. 

Other attractions include a farmers market, art installations, hands-on activities and workshops, complimentary chef tastings, a beer garden, local food and art vendors, health and wellness activities, and a kids zone filled with fun for the whole family. 

After missing Fresh Fest in 2020 Marc White, Rid-All founding partner and farm operations manager, says he’s especially exited for all of activities planned for the kids. “I’m excited to see this happen again—I’m excited to see the Spinderalla people, and people joining with other children in the stands. I want them to have a great time.”

Additionally, White says the 2019 event was an example of the city coming together as one group to celebrate and just have fun. "I'm really exited because the last [Fresh Fest] there were 6,000 people, and that was was interesting that it was people in our walks of life, in every color, in every age," he says. "And not one incident took place. 

Graphic artists and musician Kevin “mr.soul” Harp will be at Fresh Fest to create a street mural and encourage attendees to visit the art block, says Foreman, and there are plenty of opportunities for interactive art projects.

“We have canvasses for artists and the community to come make art,” Foreman says. “That’s a big thing—and we have food art in the kids zone and upcycle art for use as well.”

<span class="content-image-text">Fresh Fest Cleveland 2019</span>Fresh Fest Cleveland 2019

There will be food trucks; beauty demonstrations; roller skating hosted by Rollin’ Buckeyez founder Kenneth Purdue; three-on-three basketball tournaments that will kick off the event—with cash prizes.

In addition to the food trucks, Durden says Rid-All will also be serving food from the farm’s newly completed restaurant (which is currently only offering catering services).

“We will have a wide variety of food offerings for everybody’s taste buds,” he promises. “We’ll be serving fresh fried tilapia, vegan polish boys, greens, and cornbread, macaroni and cheese. We’re trying to keep in 100—with sauce on the side.”

New this year, beer from Brewdog, Tito’s vodka cocktails, and wine from Chateau Hough will also be for sale.

Foreman adds that the options are virtually limitless at this year’s Fresh Fest—with the organizers so excited to be able to host the event again.  

“We have a lot going on,” laughs Foreman. “With the basketball, every winner gets cash prizes, so they don’t have to split it. They each get $100 for ages 14 to 17, and for adults each winning player gets $200.”

The event is also a good venue to tout the values and mission of both Rid-All and Environmental Health Watch, says both Darden and Foreman.

“Environmental Health Watch, which Keymah helped craft when he was a board member, works around regenerative environments,” says Foreman. “I think we both, as organizations, feel strongly about what sustainability looks like—it’s not just about a building or physical space for the health of people. We talk about sustainability from a people-centered approach as well as cultivating an environment for long life.

But Darden says Fresh Fest is also a place for comradery and congregation—elements that have been missed in the last year.

“What better place than to meet at the farm, right?” he asks. “So, we’re going to the farm to enjoy and embrace life. With the [event occurring] on 9/11, it’s so befitting to show that society continues—and we won’t let our spirit be broken by terrorism, or viruses, or social unrest. We think the greater good is supposed to come together, and therein lies our strength.”

Rid-All Farm and Otter Park are located at 8129 Otter Ave., 44104. There will be complimentary shuttle service to and from the event will be provided from secure designated festival parking lots.

Fresh Fest runs from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11 and admission is free. However, those who reserve a ticket by Friday, Sept. 10 will receive a $5 voucher, good for Fresh Fest merchandise or a drink.

“It’s a time to celebrate life, celebrate coming out, if you can,” says Darden. “It’s a place to fellowship safely, with now more than ever a time to be around people to feel whole again. It’s going to be great.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.