This festival is back in Boise. It will be ‘filling your soul’ with food, music Saturday

·2 min read

Be sure to leave space in your stomach and some energy to dance this weekend, Boise.

You’re going to need it.

The Boise Soul Food Festival is coming to Julia Davis Park on Saturday, and it’s set to be the biggest one yet.

For the fifth time since its return to the Treasure Valley in 2017 — 2020’s festival was canceled because of COVID-19 — the festival will provide a full day of African-American, Hispanic, Jamaican and other ethnic food vendors, local merchandise, and song and dance performers.

The festival initially ran from 1993 to 2013, and then was back on the scene in 2017. After the 2020 cancellation, the event took place in Meridian last year. Now it’s back in Idaho’s capital city, and it’s an opportunity for the many Treasure Valley communities to showcase and celebrate their food and culture.

But what exactly is “soul food”?

“It’s food that you can eat, but it’s also filling your soul with what is so rich about our culture,” Shari Baber, the festival president, recently told the newsletter From Boise.

Fried chicken? You’ll find it at the Boise Soul Food Festival on Saturday.
Fried chicken? You’ll find it at the Boise Soul Food Festival on Saturday.

What to expect at Boise Soul Food Festival

Over 20 food vendors will be at the festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., including local soul food favorites such as Ya Mon Jamaican Jerk Grill and Louisiana’s Soul Bayou.

In its early days, the festival was geared to be more “Black-centric,” festival vice president and event director Trish Walker told From Boise. But organizers realized that they wanted the festival to be inclusive, which led to bringing in food and vendors from other cultures.

There will be at least 30 retail vendors from the Boise area, with festival organizers saying they are prioritizing Treasure Valley businesses.

The same can be said for performers and entertainment, too.

Before the festival kicks off, Nampa’s 2C Yoga instructor will host a one-hour Yoga in the Park event in the Rose Garden at Julia Davis Park for all ages and experiences.

Music and dance performances will also highlight the festival, headlined by the likes of Smooth Avenue Band, which performs regularly in the Treasure Valley, and the Brown Like Me steppers.

Admission is free to the event.

“If you’ve never had a reason or a Black friend or tried soul food or whatever,” Baber said, “this an unintimidating way to introduce yourself to our culture and our community, and support the businesses that we support.”