The annual Taste of Soul food and entertainment festival returns to South LA this weekend, kicking off a massive block party that completely envelops one of the busiest stretches of Crenshaw Boulevard.
Now in its 13th year, Taste of Soul has become one of the biggest standalone food events anywhere in Southern California, with event organizers claiming an annual attendance of over 350,000 people. If that sounds like a lot, it is, but just to give a sense of scale here’s a shot from the event in 2014:
This year’s festival features a ton of different food vendors, separated on the website by categories like African, American, BBQ & Soul, Creole & Jamaican, and more. Known names include the popular Hotville Chicken, Bludso’s, and many more. Attendance is free, with vendors charging various amounts for bites of food served from tents along the boulevard. There’s also a Budweiser-sponsored beer garden, as well as entertainment stages for live music, comedy, and gospel singers.
Perhaps what’s most interesting about Taste of Soul is the insular nature of the event itself. Despite reportedly playing to hundreds of thousands of people annually, the event has been almost entirely uncovered by larger food and print media outlets (including Eater) in the past, with the exception of the historically African American weekly the LA Sentinel. That paper also doubles as an annual sponsor for the event.
This year’s Taste of Soul will raise money for a couple of different South LA-focused charities, namely Mothers in Action and Brotherhood Crusade. There will also be a day-of on-site job fair aimed at under-employed South LA residents, running from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendance is free, with the full street fare running this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. all down Crenshaw Boulevard between Stocker and Rodeo.