TOWER GROVE PARK – Thousands of foodies flocked to Tower Grove Park on Saturday for a chance to taste some of the best cuisine St. Louis has to offer during the second annual Taste of Black St. Louis fest.
The event was established to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans to the distinct St. Louis culinary scene with several hours of tasting, shopping and learning. Vendors set up food trucks, food booths and retail spaces as well as information booths.
With more than 18,000 registered attendees, founder and CEO of the event Aisha James is already planning next year’s festival as a two-day event.
“The best way to sum it up: It’s a huge family reunion,” Jones said, of north St. Louis, said in an interview with MetroSTL.com.
Jones said that after she saw a video on Facebook two years ago when Chicago hosted a similar event, she tagged several of her friends who are entrepreneurs, hoping to start such an endeavor here with their support.
“In all honesty, it kind of just fell in my lap,” Jones said.
Participants could pre-register for the free festival on Eventbrite, but Jones said that was used only to gauge participation and to see how many people would be interested in attending the event.
Nearly 18,000 tickets and 52 vendors later, Jones advised anyone looking to be part of The Taste of Black St. Louis 2020 to “sign up soon, sign up early.”
With a microphone in hand, Jones gave a passionate address to the crowd.
“I want a team,” she said. “I need a team. I want this to grow. I want it to be bigger than it ever could be. I want to have one to two hundred booths out here.
“I want to break generational curses. We need to get generational wealth. We need to instill in our kids that you need to invest in yourself,” she emphasized.
The event was scheduled to run from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., but by 6 o’clock, vendors were running out of food.
Curtis Jackson, owner of Curtis J. Barbeque, started his business in May. Jackson had one of several food trucks parked in Tower Grove, serving barbeque and smiles.
“It was slow at first. Then we quickly found everybody wakes up at two,” Jackson said, laughing. “I haven’t seen [anything] negative. It’s been a great day.”
For more information, check out www.tasteofblackstl.com or follow them on Instagram @taste_of_black_stl.