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story.lead_photo.caption Sweets from Brown Sugar Bakeshop will be featured at Saturday’s Black Food Festival. - Photo by Benjamin Krain

Little Rock is home to several food and cultural festivals serving up exotic dishes and sharing unfamiliar customs. While the Black Food Festival may at first seem to dish up foods that are commonplace in comparison to the Turkish Food Festival's kofta or the Jewish Food Festival's knishes, it's got a culinary story to tell that goes beyond "soul food."

Black-owned food trucks, caterers, restaurants and shops will gather at Philander Smith College on Saturday for a festival designed to show off the diversity of black cuisine and to shine a spotlight on talented people and business owners across the state.

Black Food Festival

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

James Cox Building, Philander Smith College, 900 W. Daisy Gatson Bates Drive, Little Rock

Admission: Free

(501) 291-0351

The hope, organizer Rhonna Wade says, is that people will "come see what's available and try something new."

The Black Food Festival is part business networking event, part culinary tour, part educational opportunity and all fun.

This is the second year for the festival, presented by the Arkansas Association of Black Professionals, an organization that helps black entrepreneurs and their businesses grow by providing educational and networking opportunities. The festival provides the perfect way to do just that, giving them more visibility in the community.

"We're hoping to provide a venue for people to really see the different types of black entrepreneurs that are in the state," Wade says.

Last year there were nine vendors. They've managed to more than double that total this year to about 20 vendors and while most are from central Arkansas, there will also be participants from Pine Bluff, Memphis and Fayetteville.

The goal is to not only showcase the businesses, but to give visitors a taste of the diversity of black food, from Haygood BBQ to Seafood Junkies and sugary treats from Sweet Kay's Treats and Brown Sugar Bakeshop.

It won't all be food. Wade says there will also be some boutique-style vendors including Demi Rose Boutique, Goddess Style Collection and DPW True Serenity Accessories selling nonedible goods and a DJ providing extra entertainment.

The whole event will be "a marketplace," she says. "You just kind of go down and you're able to shop from the various vendors and really get a taste of what's available in Arkansas."

While admission and parking are free, guests will have to pay for food and drink, and credit cards will be accepted.

"It's a fun time, family friendly, really laid-back atmosphere," Wade says. "It's really cool to see all different types of people coming together."

Weekend on 09/07/2017

Print Headline: Black Food Festival grows into a cultural marketplace

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