BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Prepare to have an appetite because the Baton Rouge Soul Food Festival is back and this year, it’s in person.

“It’s super exciting for us because as a festival producer, you always want to be able to do a real festival, live festival. You know, we were relegated to virtual only,” said Henry Turner, Jr., Founder of the Baton Rouge Soul Food Festival.

Turner said guidance from medical experts and the governor’s recent easing of restrictions helped festival organizers make the decision to go back to in person. He also said the growing number of people getting vaccinated helps.

Expect to continue to practice social distancing and you will see hand sanitizer throughout the festival area.

It’s one step closer to normalcy while enjoying good music and great food.

“We want people to feel comfortable and to be able to have a good time and we want them to do it safely,” said Turner.

The festival has a Cooking Contest that is now open to entrants. The five categories are Meats, Vegetable and Side Dishes, Breads and Desserts, Appetizers and Soups, Beverages and Ices. Criteria is Presentation, Taste, and the Story or History behind each entry. Ten contestants in each category will be pre-selected by the judging committee. Entry fees are $20.00. $30.00 for walk-ups, if slots are available. Contestants need to bring enough food for six people the day of the festival. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded in each category. Downloadable forms, additional instructions and more information is available here.

This years’ Pioneer Award Recipient for outstanding contributions to the soul food industry, is Lizzie’s Restaurant. It was founded by Lizzie Griffin’s son Ricky and daughter Kwanda in 2016. Lizzie Griffin was famous in the community for lovingly making hearty soul food for patrons of the barroom Night Cap. Standouts were her fried chicken wings and fried fish dishes. Using her tried and true recipes the restaurant was an instant hit. To taste some of Lizzie’s delicious creations visit Lizzie’s Restaurant at 8436 Tom Drive in Baton Rouge.

The talent lineup features gospel, contemporary Christian, soul, blues and R&B artists. Performers to date include the blues, soul, funk reggae band Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor and the Listening Room All-Stars featuring singer/songwriter Larry “LZ” Dillon, spoken word artist ‘Nspire and the Inspire band, comedian Eddie “Cool” Deemer, gospel/jazz artist Wyanda Paul, gospel/soul singer Pastor Leon Hutchins, R&B singer Xavie Shorts, reggae artist Simon Oguinye, blues rocker Owen Scott and folk blues soloist Greg Robinson. Also joining the lineup are blues greats SmokeHouse Porter and Miss Mamie, with a special guest appearance by the legendary Kenny Neal. National touring and regional acts include motivation rapper and Special Olympian David “Price $$ Lion” Steffan from Nebraska, folk blues singer Jonathan Foster from Northern California, Mississippi R&B singer James Jr., Texas based R&B singers Lady Bain and singer/songwriter Melerbee. Gospel acts include Lafayette based Anthony R. Veal, Sr. & The Pew and Konai Adelphe from Knoxville, Tennessee. Hosts are DJ Teddy Lloyd Johnson of Teddy’s Juke Joint and television personality Whitney Vann. Co-host for Sunday is Gospel announcer Kerwin Fealing. Stage times and more acts will be announced closer to the date.

The 4th Annual Baton Rouge Soul Food Festival is being held Saturday, June 26 from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday, June 27 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm at River Front Plaza, 300 River Road South, in downtown Baton Rouge. The festival is family-friendly, free to the public, and also features a Vendors Village. VIP tickets, available on the website, include food, beverages, and photo ops with the talent. You can find more information here or call 225-802-9681.