Soul Food Extravaganza in Boise gets nixed

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Boise’s annual Soul Food Extravaganza, which happens yearly in Julia Davis Park, is feeling a bit like a grease fire.

It won’t happen this summer — and maybe ever again.

Why? Money, of course. Reporter Dana Oland writes in Scene’s Food Notes coming out this Friday:

The summer event grew from a community pot luck to a full-fledged festival in the park during its 20 years. But in 2012, organizers were unable to cover expenses for the celebration, festival producer Michael Hodge explained in a letter to supporters.

Hodge, founder and CEO of The Source Store, was left with “a significant level of debt,” he wrote, which left the event’s beneficiaries with fewer donations than expected.

Hodge and his company spent about $10,000 to put on the Extravaganza that they could not recoup. Coordinators ran over budget, and some vendors didn’t pay their fees. This year’s bill from Boise Parks and Recreation was $5,527, which was higher than in the past and included $591 in damages to the park.

“Despite our best efforts, we have not seen (the) level of support to cover this event. …  I still strongly believe in the results, but am no longer able to shoulder all of the costs, responsibilities and expenses alone,” he wrote.

On Friday, Brewforia owner Rick Boyd tweeted that “finances and fees from the City were the final straw apparently. Sound familiar.” (You may remember that Boyd moved his Barley Bros. Traveling Beer Show from Ann Morrison Park to Meridian’s Julius M. Kleiner Park last year after a money battle with the City of Boise.)

I’m not sure that was the real problem for the Soul Food Extravaganza. Boise just didn’t feel like it was rallying around this event. To me, its heyday was when it was still small and felt like a family-reunion picnic. As it expanded, it lost some charm — while the crowds, I’m afraid, didn’t grow enough with it.

Michael Deeds is the Idaho Statesman’s entertainment columnist and Scene magazine editor. His column runs Fridays and Sundays. He appears on the 6 p.m. broadcast of "Today's 6 News" on Thursdays and hosts a music show, "The Other Studio," from 9-10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

Posted in Words & Deeds