LEAF Festival returns to Lake Eden In Black Mountain on Oct. 14 with COVID protocols

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
LEAF Global Arts presents the LEAF Festival at Eden Lake starting on Oct. 14.

LEAF Global Arts presents the LEAF Festival starting Oct. 14 and running through Oct. 17 at Lake Eden in Black Mountain. 

Otto Vazquez, the artist curator at LEAF, designs the theme, organizes the musicians and puts together the festival scheduling.

"My main theme is called Global Citizen," Vazquez said. "We have so many eclectic and diverse influences, so many countries representing."

LEAF promotes music, dance and culture at the festival. Having presented 56 festivals and retreats over the course of 25 years, LEAF has brought 16,043 performers representing 101 countries. 

LEAF Global Arts presents the LEAF Festival at Eden Lake starting on Oct. 14.

Vazquez said the lengthy list of performers hailing from a multitude of different countries provided the Global Citizen theme. This year, for the first time, the festival will also present Urban Combat Wrestling, a combination professional wrestling exhibition and hip hop performance. 

"We have everything from Latin music to Americana to bluegrass to hip hop to jazz, blues, funk and everything under the sun," Vazquez said.  

The many different influences of the festival encourage diversity through a celebration of cultures from local groups, Africa, as far as the middle east and more. 

LEAF Global Arts presents the LEAF Festival at Eden Lake starting on Oct. 14.

The location of the festival in the large space beside Lake Eden allows for the organization to encourage festival goers to adhere to pandemic safety guidelines. LEAF plans for the festival to operate at 60% capacity with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours for everyone ages 5 and up. 

While indoors, interacting with vendors or riding shuttles, LEAF requires festival goers to wear masks. According to the organization, the protocols are subject to change should the county alter COVID-19 related mandates. 

"It's not going to be as big of a footprint as we'd normally have before COVID," Vazquez said. "We're really trying to keep everybody safe."