Soul Food Festival brings in Southern cooking and teaches about Juneteenth

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - There was a taste of competition at Foster Fest Friday night.

The annual Soul Food Festival at the Carver Museum happened to coincide with a lesser-known summer holiday.

"Juneteenth is a celebration around the date June 19th, 1865, which is the day the last of the last of the slaves, over 200,000 in Texas found out they were free,” said Carver Museum Executive Director Precious Freeman.

Precious Freeman and the rest of the staff at the G.W. Carver Interpretive Museum spend the month of June spreading awareness for Juneteenth.

They figured the easiest way to do that - food.

"Food is just a big part of African American culture in general, and I think a big part of American culture, so we're excited to be able to include that in the way we can celebrate Juneteenth this year,” said Freeman.

So Young Professionals at the Carver, an advisory board for the museum, set up the Soul Food Festival to commemorate Juneteenth.

The festival brought vendors from as far away as Panama City and Defuniak Springs to compete for the best soul food recipe in a number of categories.

"If it's macaroni and cheese, it's got to be good, cheesy macaroni and cheese,” said Soul Food Festival Judge Mary Drayton. “If it's fried chicken, it's got to be fried chicken with that good crispy crunch to it, that good old Southern taste."

While the five judges mulled over the flavors, festival-goers got to have their say to.

"So far I've only tasted the mac and cheese and collard greens and both are amazing,” said Festival Go-er Ann Snoddy. “I can't choose between the two."

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th, and the Carver Museum will be having its own little celebration then.