The Cincinnati Music Festival:  The Chicago Connection

The Black Foodies not only love eating, we love traveling and festival hopping, as well.  During the last weekend in July, Miss Coretta and I drove to Cincinnati, Ohio – The Queen City – for one of our summertime getaways, the Cincinnati Music Festival.  The Cincinnati Music Festival is the largest event in Cincinnati each year, with thousands of African Americans venturing out for an amazing weekend of food and music, where top-flight musical acts like Jill Scott, New Edition and Charlie Wilson (just to name a few) come onstage and serenade their adoring fans.  During one of the intermissions at the fest this year, Mayor John Cranley thanked everyone for coming out and said, “Make sure you spend lots of money.”  And, when the hype man yelled between musical sets “Where are my people from Chicago?”, well over half of Paul Brown Stadium erupted with a thunderous chorus of Chicagoans reppin’ the Windy City.
Last year’s event drew an audience of approximately 83,000 and brought $107.5 million dollars to Cincinnati’s local economy.  To put that into perspective, an average Major League Baseball All-Star Game generates $65 million to the local economy of the host city.  Eighty percent of the attendees for the Cincinnati Music Festival traveled from out-of-town, with 50 to 60 percent of the out-of-towners coming from Chicago.  These stats come from a report produced by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center.  Needless to say, Black Chicago contributes mightily to Cincinnati’s local economy – as well as to northern Kentucky – every July.  Each attendee spends on average $692 for food, lodging and retail during the festival.  How many, though, of these valuable economic dollars are spent with African American merchants in the area?  While the festival does a decent job of having some African American food vendors and other merchants front and center outside of Paul Brown Stadium for festival-goers to patronize, there is so much more we can do to support the Black economic infrastructure of Cincinnati during festival weekend.
According to lifelong Cincinnati resident Danielle Henderson who is co-owner of Granny’s Soul Kitchen, to become a vendor at the Cincinnati Music Festival is expensive, and some small business owners just cannot afford it.  To support more Black-owned businesses, Ms. Henderson suggests traveling away from the downtown area and going to the West End section of Cincinnati, which is only ten minutes away.  She also shared with us, “We always know the people from Chicago when the festival is taking place.  They are always dressed in white.  The people from Chicago always come in droves and my business benefits every year, and I am very grateful.  The West End Metropolitan area is as safe as downtown Cincinnati, so people should come on over and check out some of the services we have to offer.”

Just a portion of the crowd at the Cincinnati Music Festival

Chicagoans in white at the festival

We suggest googling Black-owned restaurants and other businesses in Cincinnati.  Also, in conjunction with the Cincinnati Music Festival, is Cincy Soul: The Black Taste food festival where one can get acquainted with a slew of Black-owned restaurants and chefs.
So, Chicago, let’s keep the connection with Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Music Festival strong and supportive.  It’s a great time and only a four-hour drive from Chicago for some surefire fun and relaxation.  Just remember, your tourist dollars count, spend them wisely, and be sure to support the black-owned businesses in Cincinnati when you go.
To see our coverage of Cincinnati and its festivals, go to our YouTube channel and check out Flavor-It Destinations Cincinnati, OH.
The Black Foodies are food bloggers/vloggers and husband and wife of 25 years.  We are also home cooks who believe in group economics and LOVE great food.  We write the food blog “Let’s Eat,” where we review Black-owned and other ethnic restaurants.   FOLLOW us on Instagram and Twitter @theblackfoodies, SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel “The Black Foodies,” where we review restaurants, share recipes, and give cooking tips.  Also LIKE us on Facebook and join our Facebook group, “World Wide Black Foodies.”
Lastly, if you have a restaurant you would like The Black Foodies to review, email us at  One love. . .

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