City is ready for some ‘Soul Food’

By Nick Blank
Posted 10/10/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Thousands will flock to Vera Francis Park Saturday for food, entertainment, a parade and more on the 17th Annual Soul Food Festival, held from 12-7 p.m.

Festival Coordinator …

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City is ready for some ‘Soul Food’

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Thousands will flock to Vera Francis Park Saturday for food, entertainment, a parade and more on the 17th Annual Soul Food Festival, held from 12-7 p.m.

Festival Coordinator Felecia Hampshire said turnout was low last year, about 2,800 people, because of the Hurricane Irma. But she said the festival has more than 50 vendors this year and she credited a staff of more than 30 volunteers for what she expects a record turnout.

“That was low for us,” Hampshire said. “This year, with the requests for vendors, it seems as if we’re probably going to hit record numbers again.”

This year’s entertainment includes rap act 69 Boyz, hailing from Jacksonville, who hit platinum album sales for their 1994 album, “199Quad” and hit single “Tootsee Roll.” The festival also features the Special Formula Band, the 7th Street Band, singer Kia Uwanda, rapper Royale and a tribute to Aretha Franklin.

“We try to bring in well-known artists that generally brings a crowd,” Hampshire said.

Hampshire said the dance contests and the parade, featuring Mayor Connie Butler as grand marshal are other major draws. The parade begins at the administration building on Palmetto Avenue and ends at Vera Francis Park.

“People from the community far and near get involved,” Hampshire said. “People love parades. They don’t care how long or short they are, they love parades.”

Then there’s the food. The festival will host barbecue ribs and sweet potato pie contests.

Erich “Mr. Pop” Terry has been a fixture at the festival for the past decade, cooking fried crabs, fried chicken wings, shrimp and fish. Terry, of St. Augustine, said he brings 300 pounds of food that is gone by the festival’s conclusion.

“Whatever you bring you sell out,” Terry said

Terry said the event had a great atmosphere because it draws different people from different places.

“It’s good for the whole family. You listen to a bit of music and it’s a good day of being out and enjoying yourself,” Terry said. “After the parade there’s so many people. You’re like, ‘Where are they coming from? There’s not this many people in Green Cove.’ What I found out is, people come from all around, they graduate and come back home for that event. That’s what makes it a great event.”

Hampshire said this year’s theme is “Heart to Soul.” The cause for this year’s festival is heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will go to those in need who have heart disease.

“There’s a cause to what we do. We realize we have to give back to our community,” Hampshire said. People are going to eat all the good stuff [Saturday] and that’s OK. But we try to tell folks to minimize intake, do everything in moderation.”

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