Soul Food Extravaganza Cancelled 

Organizer says the fest "never really generated any income"

Julia Davis Park will lack some serious soul this summer.

Leila Ramella-Rader

Julia Davis Park will lack some serious soul this summer.

About 100 people congregated at the Cathedral of the Rockies for the inaugural Soul Food Extravaganza in 1993. By 2012, the festival drew 18,000-25,000 people to Julia Davis Park for plates heaped high with stick-to-your-ribs Southern cooking.

But it doesn't look like the festival will continue to expand. The Soul Food Extravaganza has been canceled this year.

"I would actually like to see the Soul Food continue, but I've been sponsoring it--I've been the major sponsor for the last six to seven years--and it's never really generated any income to continue," said Michael Hodge, founder of The Source and the nonprofit R.A.C.E. Foundation.

Hodge says it costs $40,000 to put on the event, which is comprised of funds raised from sponsorships, individual vendor fees and money that he donates personally.

"We've never charged any type of admission to get into the Soul Food, even our food vendors, as we grow it, they make a pretty good portion of money ... But the Soul Food in general is not really reaping those benefits," he said.

Hodge also said there was "extensive damage" done to Julia Davis Park in 2012.

"People were pouring out their grease from the food after the event on the grass," said Hodge. "[The city] sent us 30-40 pictures of the park being damaged. And then we tried to send these pictures over to the food vendors and the merchandise vendors who were responsible, and of course, they didn't want to pay the deposit."

But according to Adam Park, spokesman for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, the damage only amounted to $592, around 10 percent of the total charged by the city for the event: $5,527.

Money woes aside, Hodge says the decision to cancel the festival hasn't gone over well with longtime vendors. He hopes someone will be inspired to take the reins so the festival can continue.

"I was kind of hoping that the community would pull together, if this was an important event to them, and come together and donate money or figure out another way to raise money," said Hodge.

Park echoed Hodge's sentiments.

"I thought it was a tremendous benefit to the community. We hope there's a way that it can come back perhaps in a different form or a different model so that it can make money," said Park.

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