By Angela M. Coggs
On Saturday, October 15, 2016 over 350,000 residents converged on Crenshaw Boulevard for Los Angeles’ largest street festival and the largest gathering of African American Businesses in the country- Taste of Soul. Bakewell Media hosted the 11th Annual Taste of Soul Food and Family Festival 2016 from 10:00am to 7:00pm in Los Angeles, California. The event took place on Crenshaw Blvd. between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Rodeo.
This year’s festival themed: “It’s A Family Affair” has become the 11th in what is now known as a destination event for all of not only the city of Los Angeles but Los Angeles County and surrounding communities. It was attended by over 350,000 men, women, students, children, celebrities and dignitaries from all over Southern California and across the United States, including a few residents from Riverside County.
“I had a great time. Everyone was so cool,” said LaToya Jones, teacher in the Riverside Unified School District for the past 15 years. This was her second time attending the Taste of Soul with her husband David. “I ABSOLUTELY loved Jazmine Sullivan’s performance. She is a true beauty with an incomparable voice and humble heart. The KJLH DJ had the crowd moving. The food was scrumptious. I can’t wait until next year.”
The event was a success. Free concerts took place on three major stages (KJLH, The Wave, and McDonalds). This year’s TOS was bigger and better than ever. With radio partners KJLH and 94.7 The Wave pulling together first class entertainment. KJLH featured contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. Hosted by KJLH radio personality DJ Mal-Ski. This year, KJLH 102.3 radio station celebrated TOS’s eleventh anniversary by bringing back some local talent and artists such as MAJOR, Guordan Banks, 112, Mike “Mike Philly” Phillips, and Jazmine Sullivan. The KJLH music stage was sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings.
94.7 The WAVE, whose music stage is sponsored by Budweiser this year, has been a media partner and radio sponsor with the Taste of Soul Festival since 2008.This year, the radio station took music lovers back to some of the greatest hits from artists including Chosen Recovery Gospel Group, On Tour, Tom Browne, Troop and War.
The gospel stage which in year two was only a small stage in front of the Sentinel offices, has now has grown to feature The McDonalds Gospel Fest on the Brenda Marsh Mitchell Gospel Stage. The 2016 Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour at Taste of Soul featured every genre within the gospel music industry: contemporary, traditional, inspirational, instrumental, hip-hop, and comedy. Hosted by syndicated radio personality Lonnie Hunter, attendees experienced
renowned gospel artists Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard, Charles Jenkins, Jonathan McReynolds, Canton Jones, and Doug Williams. Also, acclaimed comedian, Small Fire provided entertainment for the entire family and community to enjoy.
There were various food and non-food vendors in attendance. Some of the notable food vendors included (African) Cocoa & Pitta Catering and Rafikiz Foodz, (American) Da Mudd Duck and Dipping Chicken, (BBQ) Big Mama’s Succulent & Savory BBQ, Bludso’s BBQ, Dulan’s, Gettch Grubb On, Not Your Mama’s Kitchen and Shabazz Good Food, (Creole & Jamaican) L.A. Jerk Shack and Smhokin Pot, and (Desserts & Treats) Sharon’s Heavenly Cobblers, Coco’s Lip Smacking Cupcakes, and Fun Time Kettle Corn.
There was plenty of love and no incidents were reported. This event has grown from having 35,000 in 2005 people in attendance during the first year to have over 350,000 in 2016. Over 350,000 African Americans gathered in the Black Community to celebrate, to share in a day of unity, love and togetherness.
Last year, Kamala Harris, currently California Attorney General now running for the United States Senate, attended the Taste of Soul in 2015. “It’s one of the most enjoyable things I do all year. Where else can you have all of the community turn out, family… it’s about love of community, supporting our local businesses. It is really one of the most important events in all of Los Angeles.”
It’s been called Los Angeles’s largest street festival for good reason. Thousands of attendees arrive every year to indulge in the “soulful.” From soul food to soul music, it’s hard not to have a great time. It’s a local gem that will be back again next year and the people are already looking forward to it.