Taste of Soul celebrates 10th anniversary

Los+Angeles+Mayor+Eric+Garcetti+entertains+the+crowd+at+the+2015+Taste+of+Soul.+%28photo+courtesy+of+Taste+of+Soul%29

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti entertains the crowd at the 2015 Taste of Soul. (photo courtesy of Taste of Soul)

Armand Santos, Senior Staff Writer

Taste of Soul was created to highlight the positive aspects of African-American life and to encourage the enjoyment, respect and appreciation of our community and each other in an atmosphere of respect, peace, pride and pleasure.”

— Danny J. Bakewell, Sr.

The Taste of Soul Family Festival turned 10 this year. This is the largest festival in Los Angeles, with crowds approaching 400,000 for the single-day event.

Crenshaw Blvd. was closed to vehicular traffic between Stocker St. and Rodeo Rd. Oct. 17 for the event. Boasting four full stages,  hundreds of unique vendors, a dizzying array of food and a down-home family atmosphere, Taste of Soul had something for just about everyone.

The Taste of Soul Family Festival is the brainchild of Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., publisher of the ‘Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper’, one of the oldest African-American newspapers on the West coast. Bakewell, originally from New Orleans, envisioned the Taste of Soul as a way to showcase the pride of Los Angeles’ African-American community.

Bakewell states that, “Taste of Soul was created to highlight the positive aspects of African-American life and to encourage the enjoyment, respect and appreciation of our community and each other in an atmosphere of respect, peace, pride and pleasure.”

The festival has grown. The turnout during the first year was 50,000 attendees. The Los Angeles Fire Department reported the 2014 attendance as 350,000. Preliminary estimates have placed the 2015 crowd between 350,000 to 375,000 attendees.

The sheer volume of people at the festival does make parking a challenge. To alleviate this problem, the festival has partnered with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro). Metro has increased the frequency of transportation to and from the festival and campaigned to promote its public transportation choices that allow festival-goers more direct access to all of the fun without the hassle of hunting down parking. The festival has also instituted a free shuttle service to ferry people around.

The city and county of Los Angeles are also festival partners, ensuring the safety and cleanliness of Taste of Soul. One Angeleno, in particular, is very personally involved. Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti not only served as Chairman of the festival, but also performed live on stage.

Garcetti slyly announced his performance at the Taste of Soul VIP Reception that was held the night before the festival at the California African-American Museum in Exposition Park.

“Check me out at the Taste of Soul at 2:30, I have a surprise for you all,” said Garcetti at the end of his address. Aside from his day job as Mayor of LA, Garcetti is an avid jazz pianist and composer.

This year saw an addition to the Taste of Soul. “The McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour is a new experience that we have added to the Taste of Soul,” said Bakewell.

Also new at the 2015 Taste of Soul is the Taste of Beauty Pavilion. Celebrity stylists DaRico Jackson, Patric Bradley, Neeko, 729 BEaUty and Kim Kimble headlined the pavilion. Kimble is the star of the show “LA Hair”, which airs on WE TV. She boasts a client list that includes Oprah and Beyonce.

Check out the Taste of Soul on social media and download the app for both Android and Apple.

Facebook: Facebook.com/tasteofsoulla, Twitter: @tasteofsoulla, and Instagram: Instagram.com/tasteofsoulla. Search both Google Play and the Apple Appstore for Taste of Soul or Los Angeles Sentinel to download the app.

 

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