CINCINNATI — Cincy Soul Festival returned on Saturday, headlined by the Isley Brothers, bringing soul food vendors to showcase their eats at Sawyer Point.
Dozens of vendors right outside the main stage served up soul food favorites for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the festival in 2020.
"It's very monumental," said Terrell Smith, with 2 Fat Boys and a Grill. "I mean, you know, we had so many closures, and so many businesses suffered during the pandemic so, you know, to come out and re-establish yourself, you know, as an entrepreneur in this type of arena is very rewarding and very satisfying."
According to the African American Chamber of Commerce, 30% of Black-owned businesses in Cincinnati shut down during the pandemic. With more businesses now opening back up, Cincy Soul Festival provided an opportunity to meet new customers and showcase their work.
"I think we're all happy to be at something," said Robert Baines, who attended the festival. "The food is good. Got a nice breeze and some shade. It's a good day."
After the music faded and the smells of freshly cooked soul food dissipated, the impact of Cincy Soul Festival still reverberates.
"The Cincy Soul Fest, of course, it's an urban get-together, but it's really for the world," said Smith. "We can relate to soul and deep love and we out here fellowshipping with one another, coming together to have a good time."
The African American Chamber of Commerce has created a program to help businesses that took a financial hit during the pandemic. The group said they reached more than 100 businesses between January and June 30.