The Refuge Outdoor Festival returns for a second year to Tolt-MacDonald Park, Sept. 27-29. Photo courtesy of Sally Phnouk

The Refuge Outdoor Festival returns for a second year to Tolt-MacDonald Park, Sept. 27-29. Photo courtesy of Sally Phnouk

Refuge Outdoor Festival returns for a second year

The festival will take place at Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation, Sept. 27-29.

The Refuge Outdoor Festival is returning for a second year to Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation, Sept. 27-29. The festival is a three-day camping experience geared toward people of color, outdoor recreation and community building.

Refuge was launched by Chevon Powell, a Texas native who moved to Seattle nine years ago. Powell said she created the festival after she had an incident with a police officer in Vermont. After being followed, stopped and questioned by the police officer, Powell said she saw that as an opportunity to create an experience where people could come together and build community.

“As an event planner by trade, I thought I could use my skills to change what people see around people of color being outside,” she said. “I wanted to bring community together so that we can all be in a safe space outside and enjoy a weekend together… it’s like a family reunion.”

The festival is planned to be a safe place that brings together people of all ages and recreation levels to explore and celebrate diversity, nature and life. The festival includes daily outdoor recreation activities including hiking and fishing, community conversations, nightly conversations, workshops, yoga, meditation, music, dancing and art. Workshops and an ice cream social will kick off the event on Friday. A Snoqualmie Tribe recognition will also be read. Saturday is packed with workshops, outdoor activities, music and silent disco to end the night. Sunday will include a service project and conversation.

“There’s a notion that people of color don’t do the [outdoors],” Powell said. “There’s a lot of negative stereotypes and perspectives in people of color… I wanted to create a space where we could have those conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors specifically.”

This year, the festival is expecting about 200 people. Powell said community members are welcomed to drop by for a full day or stay the full weekend. Refuge is an intergenerational event and all are welcome — people of color and allies.

Full access passes are $110, youth passes are $45, children under 8 are free. Ticket information is available online at bit.ly/ROFest2019. Detailed festival lodging information can be found on the festival website, www.refugeoutdoorfestival.com.

“There is a low number of [people of color] in the outdoor industry. We don’t necessarily get the opportunity as people of color and this is the opportunity to learn from people that look like us, and I think that is important,” Powell said. “Refuge is creating that space where you can find those things and learn from people that might look like you.”

Refuge was created by Golden Bricks Events — Powell’s consulting business — which has a record of developing events and festivals that encompass outdoor recreation, community and diversity.

Golden Brick Events builds experiences showcasing the voices and faces of people of color and marginalized communities, bringing people together in the outdoors and serving the needs of a diverse and inclusive community.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that the Snoqualmie Tribe would perform a land recognition on Friday night. The Snoqualmie Tribe will not perform a land recognition. Refuge Outdoor Festival will read a land recognition provided by the Snoqualmie Tribe.


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The Refuge Outdoor Festival is creating a space to explore and celebrate diversity, nature and life. Photo courtesy of Tennishia Williams

The Refuge Outdoor Festival is creating a space to explore and celebrate diversity, nature and life. Photo courtesy of Tennishia Williams

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