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Soul Food Festival returns to Boise's Julia Davis Park

The Aug. 13 festival is a remake of the Soul Food Extravaganza that began in 1992. The extravaganza was held at Julia Davis for over 20 years.

BOISE, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

The Soul Food Festival is coming home to Boise’s Julia Davis Park on Aug. 13 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

“The festival is my heart,” said Shari Baber, president of the Soul Food Festival. “It’s how I love my community.”

The festival is a remake of the Soul Food Extravaganza that began in 1992. The extravaganza was held at Julia Davis for over 20 years. According to Baber, this year is technically the fifth year of the festival but the first year it’s being held in its original location. 

A few years after the extravaganza came to an end, Baber was encouraged by her 30-year-old daughter to bring it back so her son could share his culture with others. 

Being able to celebrate your culture with your community is what makes home, home, Baber said. 

“What our biggest goal for the extravaganza, besides having good food to eat, is to build bridges,” Baber said. “We want to uplift our Black businesses. We want to share with our community.”

Timberlake's Cuisine is one of the businesses being uplifted at the festival. 

With pop-ups every Saturday, Brandon Timberlake describes his food as “soul fusion cuisine.” Timberlake creates unique flavor combinations and has a seasonal menu cycle, including a homemade alfredo paired with a smoked garlic parmesan rib. At the festival, Timberlake will be serving smoked bourbon ribs, smoked mac and cheese, collard greens, smoked turkey greens, hot dogs and hamburgers. His food takes him back to the kitchen, cooking with his grandma and watching her invent new food combinations. 

“It's something special. And to me that's what I want my food to do. I want it to time travel, you know, take people back to a good place,” Timberlake said.

Being a part of the Soul Food Festival has been Timberlake's goal for three years, but this is his first year being a part of it. 

“It's a dream come true,” Timberlake said. “But it’s taken a lot of hard work.”

Sweetz Dipped Treats just opened in May, and owner Andrea Dixie is just as excited to be at the festival. 

“I feel blessed to be a part of it,” Dixie said, “because it is a family business I try to attract the younger crowd — the kids, the teenagers — and just give them a safe space to just hang out and talk.”

A self-proclaimed sink-or-swim kind of girl, Dixie decided to be a part of the festival because of her love for the community.

“Community connections are so important to a person's well being and a person's self worth and self esteem,” Baber said.

Nicole Beall is adding to those community connections by teaching a yoga class the morning of the festival, starting at 8 a.m. in the rose garden. 

“This event is to help educate people on the Black community here in the Treasure Valley,” Beall said. “And us being there also helps to show that Black people are in places that perhaps you wouldn't expect us to be.”

Not only is this yoga practice a nice opportunity to experience yoga outside of a studio, Beall said she hopes it will help yoga become more inclusive. 

“A lot of times when you take a yoga class, your teacher is not going to look like me,” Beall said. “So hopefully when people see me, they'll see themselves in a yoga class.”

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.

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