COLUMBUS, OH — The Ohio Black Expo returns to downtown Columbus Memorial Day Weekend and kicks off festival season with 4 days of events from Thursday, May 26 – Sunday, May 29, 2022. With a business conference on Thursday, workshops and networking on Friday, and the festival on the riverfront Saturday and Sunday, there is something for everyone!
Central Ohio will be the permanent home of the annual event that makes its return this year after the last in-person event took place in 1991 at the former Franklin County Veterans Memorial. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio Black Expo was “Ohio’s largest minority consumer and business exhibit.”
The original return was planned for Memorial Day weekend in 2020, but the pandemic caused the organization to pivot to virtual events for the last 2 years. This created an interesting dynamic, as they had guests participate and interact from all over the nation. Many of those participants are Ohio natives and were happy that they could attend online. In addition, the business conference attendance in 2020 far surpassed the capacity of the in-person venue that would have been used.
This year, the weekend kicks off on Thursday morning with the business conference geared towards small businesses. Tiffany Edwards CFRE and Chief Strategy Officer of The State of Ohio Collective remarked, “We are excited to partner with Ohio Black Expo where luminaries in our pillars of education, economic development, and health will engage with the Collective founders, innovators, researchers, and strategists who are working together to create a better life for Ohioans. Black businesses have unique opportunities for transformative growth this year through this partnership!”
Friday morning continues with a workshop for seniors and caregivers, followed by an afternoon workshop focused on health and wellness. Friday evening will welcome more visitors to Columbus with several networking events for various groups. One of the gatherings will be for Black veterans from around the state and is timely for the holiday.
The main event, the Riverfront Culture Fest, begins on Saturday from 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM and continues on Sunday from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM at Genoa Park. A mix of entertainment, award presentations, and performances from Ohio and national talent will grace the stage. Vendors, exhibitors, and a variety of food trucks are primarily from Ohio and surrounding states, but also traveling from as far away as Denver, Colorado. One of the vendors had a recent feature story in Black Enterprise magazine. To tie that to the history of the Expo, the original publisher of Black Enterprise, Earl Graves, was the keynote speaker in 1991.
Founder Rhonda D. Robinson says, “I’m excited about bringing this back. Our businesses and our community need this!”
Ohio Black Expo is a non-profit organization seeking to fund its year-round programs and initiatives, which include scholarships for youth. Collaborations with the Ohio NAACP and the State of Ohio Collective provide valuable community programming with plans to expand in the coming months. The State of Ohio Collective will host the State of Black Ohio again this year, which launched in 2020 during the pandemic.
“Ohio is rich with cultural celebrations from around the globe. We are happy to bring this celebration back to Columbus,” said Sherri Hamilton, President and CEO of The Ohio Black Expo.
Additional information can be found at ohioblackexpo.com or by calling (614) 662-0950.