Fremont Street is about to regain its soul.
After a one-year absence, the Taste & Sounds of Soul festival will return to the Fremont Street Experience for its 20th iteration Feb. 28 through March 1. Admission is free.
Organizer Charles Tureaud said the festival, which had been drawing 30,000 people a day, was moved to a smaller space at Boulevard Mall last year because of some planned construction on Fremont Street that didn’t materialize. This year’s event, he said, will have 40 vendors, with at least 25 different foods featured.
“We’ll have turkey legs, teriyaki, soul food, Creole food, barbecue …” he trailed off.
Plus, said his wife and fellow organizer Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud, there will be boutiques with original clothing, candles and incense and sports memorabilia. (They’re still accepting vendors; call 702-743-9613.)
And live music, of course, on the largest Fremont Street Experience stage, which is in front of the D.
Started at Jackson & D
Bailey-Tureaud said the festival got started at Jackson and D streets when she was director of the micro-business program of the Economic Opportunity Board of Clark County.
“It started from a very authentic and pure way of trying to help and instill some education,” she said. “Economic inclusion has always been our tagline. We wanted people to come out so they would patronize the businesses.”
Then Don Barden, an African-American who was the owner of Fitzgeralds (now the D) on the Fremont Street Experience, suggested the move to the larger and more visible venue.
“Many of those businesses now are flourishing,” Bailey-Tureaud said. “Many of these people have just parlayed from the event. And now we get vendors from all over the country.”
Charles Tureaud said it’s important to shine a spotlight on the Las Vegas community, as events such as this one do.
“We seem to be forgotten, just the way Vegas is growing,” he said. “Everything is charge for parking, charge, charge. Everything is about the shareholders, who don’t live here. This is about giving locals a sense of identity, a sense of presence.”
The festival crowd, he said, is multi-cultural, and with families, older folks and young people.
“It looks like the community,” he said. “It looks like the world we live in.
“The Taste and Sounds of Soul is really about black culture, and black culture is mainstream. Our event has always brought out people who are attracted to the atmosphere we create. That’s what catches people. They smell that food in the air and hear great music.”