FlushFest: The Musical Melting Pot Returns to West Hillsborough

FlushFest: The Musical Melting Pot Returns to West Hillsborough

Get ready for a musical extravaganza as we welcome back the beloved West Hillsborough music festival, FlushFest, this weekend! What started as a grassroots initiative by founder Grace Beeler has blossomed into a vibrant event featuring five stages and over 20 bands performing throughout the weekend.

“FlushFest began in 2017,” Beeler shares. “As an independent project for my Master’s Degree at NC State, I was making a documentary film on a sewer system invented in Brazil that can serve urban slums. I needed money to finish the film, so my neighbor Peter said, ‘I’ll throw you a music festival!’ And thus, FlushFest was born.”

FlushFest funded Beeler’s film, What Comes Out Goes to the Government: Condominial Sewerage in Brazil, and has supported numerous subsequent projects. “Last year’s FlushFest enabled us to shoot a series of video classes in Brazil and edit and translate a series of papers for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Water and Health. This year’s festival will support editing those video classes and translating more of the Oxford papers. We plan to bring the video classes to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania to teach utility workers how to construct this system, with the ultimate goal of cleaning up Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.”

Starting with a handbuilt stage in Peter’s backyard, FlushFest has quickly outgrown its initial space but remains dedicated to maintaining a community-minded atmosphere. Beeler explains, “Last year, we added Eno House. We had about 500 people attend in 2023, and it felt like we were reaching capacity. Everyone had such a good time that we knew they would bring their friends this year. So we asked Eno River Brewing if they could host, and they said yes! Then we asked the Cloth Mill if we might use their parking lot, and they said yes and also offered us use of the entire venue, both the inside and outside stages! We will still be at Eno House and have an after-party at Nash Street Tavern, making five stages across West Hillsborough.”

The festival’s growth isn’t just in attendance. When it began, Beeler and the founding crew actively sought out musicians from places that would benefit from improved sanitation. Now, musicians seek out the festival to perform. “Project Mastana’s lead singer is from India and works for the EPA, so she is very dedicated to clean water. She asked to play when a friend told her about it. Godi Godar, who is from Congo, runs a nonprofit called Go Conscious Earth. He has single-handedly saved over a million acres of rainforest in the Congo. Wesley Noog is also 

very focused on the environment. We worked on a music video with him for his song NÃO VALE, about water pollution in Brazil,” Beeler continues. “So some folks come to us, and others we ask. But everyone has been super supportive. For the first four years, all the musicians played for free. This year and last year, we have been able to pay them a small thank-you stipend, thanks to support from the town of Hillsborough Tourism Authority.

Beeler and her team have thought of it all, adding family-friendly activities to the weekend, including face painting, tie-dye, ping pong, bocce ball, food trucks, fun candy, and so much more. A new and exciting element this year is the addition of a second silent film screening with live piano, offering a unique experience for festival-goers.

Beeler’s goals for the weekend are simple: “I hope that everyone remembers FlushFest as the most fun, silliest, and musically diverse festival we have in town. What’s sillier than taking a picture of yourself sticking your head through a toilet seat? And where else can you hear Bollywood funk, Brazilian Sambasoul, British Eighties rock, Ukrainian folk, Swamp Jazz, Punk, Americana, and Congolese balafons all in one day?”

So, come join us at FlushFest this weekend! Whether you’re looking to enjoy incredible music, engage in family-friendly fun, or simply experience the vibrant and eclectic atmosphere, there’s something for everyone. Let’s make this year’s FlushFest the most memorable one yet!

Find the schedule and more event details by visiting FLUSHFEST.ORG – Tickets are by donation. 
Become a long-term supporter of the FlushFest VIP program. More details here.