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East Palo Alto: Collard Greens Festival
A winking green leaf logo was the symbol promoting East Palo Alto's Collard Green Festival for years. The event drew residents and visitors to participate in a cook-off and honor a King and Queen of Collards. While the cruciferous vegetable intricately tied to the history of soul food did not take center stage this year, it showed up alongside shrimp and catfish at festival vendor "Sue's Good Cooking".
Fliers from 2007 and 2011 featured a winking collard leaf logo designed to promote attendance at an event that has been a big draw in East Palo Alto since 1998. The annual Collard Greens Cultural Festival became the Collard Green and Blues Festival this year. As the name change foreshadowed, emphasis was less on the vegetable than on the music this time around.
Dancers got down to the rhythms of Lenny Williams (formerly of Tower of Power), the Bay Area Blues Society Caravan of Allstars, Terrible Tom Bowden, Alvin Draper, Fillmore Slim, Valufa, the New Razherm Blues Band, and the wonderfully named "Scary Larry and the Monsters".
The first annual Collard Greens Cultural Festival west of the Mississippi started in East Palo Alto 14 years ago, as a fundraiser to help support the Shule Mandela Academy, an afrocentric alternative school. Nobantu Ankoanda, founder of the festival, still has ties to East Palo Alto, and has since helped spread collard green festivals to Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. The festivals celebrate the traditions, culture and historical contributions of African Americans while promoting family unity and the importance of healthy eating.
Catfish coming right up!