October 25, 2012
By KENNETH MILLER and PAMELA BAKEWELL
LAWT Staff Writers
The numbers only tell half the story; over 400 vendors supplied good food and a variety of other merchandise to more than 300,000 people along a 1.1 mile radius of the Crenshaw Blvd. corridor for approximately nine hours at the 7th annual ‘Taste of Soul’ Family Festival last Saturday, October 20th.
“Taste of Soul” has become the largest assembly of Black Businesses in Los Angeles. The event has become such a phenomenon that local Black businesses are emerging from booth renter to employer and large established corporations, like Chevy and Broadway Federal Bank and government agencies, such as Metro Transportation Authority (MTA), are providing jobs to those who were once collecting unemployment.
All of this transpired because of the masses of individuals who annually gather at ‘Taste of Soul’ to enjoy the array of festivities and they have also been afforded the chance to meet, greet and explore the vendor products and services in an atmosphere that is conducive to such success.
Metro was able to promote the once controversial Expo Line and the upcoming Crenshaw Line in a way that did not involve political red flags. Last weekend Metro reported an increase of individuals they encountered at ‘Taste of Soul’ who used their new branch of transportation to attend the event and who said they intend to continue using it for days beyond
“Taste of Soul” isn’t just about food and entertainment; it’s also about the empowerment of businesses, many people hadn’t heard of some of these businesses before “Taste of Soul”; it gave our local businesses and our corporate sponsors great exposure, said Creator and Founder of “Taste of Soul”, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., who is an established, successful business icon in his own right. Thus, ‘Taste of Soul’ has demonstrated empowerment at its best during a time when our economy is slowly recovering from near collapse.
Local favorite creole seafood eatery such as Harold and Belles invested in seven booths at the event, and discovered that ‘Taste of Soul’ is not just where you sell food; it’s where you grow your established brand.
A variety of cultures were represented in vendors such as Stone’s Jamaican, Mel’s fish, the Cobbler King, Real Water and many others that offered candy, clothing, sweet cakes and more. One gentleman who specializes in selling Kettle Corn made his first appearance at the event in 2011 and has literally not left Crenshaw Blvd. since then. Throughout the year, you can find him on the corner of Crenshaw & Martin Luther King Blvd in front of the Department and Water building. “Taste of Soul” is building and growing businesses along the Crenshaw corridor all year long.
The month of October also celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness and many of the attendees wore pink ribbons in support of the cause. There was a health vendor that offered breast mammograms, and Aids Healthcare Corp provided tests for HIV in addition to important tips to combat the dreaded disease.
The non-profit and community service organizations were also well represented on Saturday. With booths representing a variety of services that support healthcare, job development, safety, education, neighborhood safety and disaster preparedness, you could find SEIU, Fire Station 94, the Brotherhood Crusade, the Urban League, LA City Workforce Development and others that demonstrated we are a tight knit neighborhood that has spending power, business acumen and a strong sense of community.
“Taste of Soul” Nation is people working together; “Taste of Soul” is not just a family festival; “Taste of Soul” has a purpose and a common goal to provide an economic stimulus for our neighborhood resulting in an event that promotes respect for one another in a peaceful and fun-loving atmosphere of hope and love.
You proved that “Taste of Soul” was CREATED FOR YOU and you definitely SHARED THE LOVE. The boost for this economic engine is the quality of the event and the SPIRIT of the people selling and attending. The vendors have proven that they are here for the long haul because most of them have submitted their requests for space for the October 19th, 2013 “Taste of Soul.” Hope to see you next year!!! The vendors will definitely be there!!!