'This is huge for the culture' Boise Soul Food Festival celebrates African-American heritage

"If you've ever had soul food, man, it's a good feeling"
Posted at 12:30 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 15:20:00-04

BOISE, Idaho — Boise's Soul Food Festival is back for its third year in the Treasure Valley--and they hope to break down barriers and bring people together through the event.

The event is family-friendly and will feature delicious soul food and local retail vendors from across the Treasure Valley. One of the chefs cooking up meals this weekend is Jody Charles, head chef of Louisiana Soul Bayou.

Charles grew up in Louisiana and has lived in Idaho for the past 17 years. He says his food is a taste of home he's excited to share with the community.

"If you've ever had soul food, man, it's a good feeling. It makes you leave smiling and happy and it brings everyone closer together too," Charles said.

This weekend is a chance to not only empower Black-owned businesses but celebrate heritage as well.

"This is huge for the culture," explained Tariq Polley, founder, and CEO of Sneaker Tongue. "Diversity is rising here in Boise so this is something for us to really put on, let Boise see as far as the perspective of African American culture and what we're bringing to Boise."

“The Boise Soul Food Festival is important to me because it opens doors to share our Black culture with the community," agreed BSFF Operations Manager, Trish Walker. "The festival honors diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging and allows us to see and celebrate Black representation in Idaho."

Shari Baber is the woman behind the festival. She says food is a central part of not only celebrating her heritage but in starting conversations and breaking down barriers.

"Our culture generally socialized in the kitchen. We did our hair in the kitchen, we studied in the kitchen, we cooked food in the kitchen, we prayed in the kitchen, we did bible study in the kitchen. A lot of what families and relatives did took place in the kitchen over a meal," Baber said. "While you're nourishing your body, you're opening yourself up for communication, understanding and a conversation."

New this year, the festival will feature mental health informational booths with two Black mental health specialists, Saint Alphonsus mobile vaccination clinic and will start the festival with Yoga in the Park from 10-11 a.m. The event is free and runs from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Kleiner Park.