WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — A celebration of culture, cuisine and community took place on Saturday at Valley Junction.
Taste of the Junction hosted their 10th multicultural festival from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. The festival included live music, a beverage tent, multiple food trucks, business vendors, arts and crafts vendors and activities for children to enjoy. The event was completely free to attend and open to the public.
The event organizer explained why she set up the event 10 years ago.
“We just wanted to celebrate all the people, all the different cultures and all the different cuisines that come out of Valley Junction,” said Rachelle Long, the CEO of Taste of the Junction. “Because a lot of people don’t even know that there was so much diversity that exists in Valley Junction. So we are fourth, fifth, sixth generation descendants, we wanted to come together and do a taste of the Junction so we could share with everyone else how we grew up as a people.”
Several local businesses had tents or their food trucks out there to show the community what their business has to offer.
One local businessman just started a new soul food truck three months ago. He is using the multicultural festival as a way to reach out in the community and let them know the story behind his food.
“Well I am a 4th generation slavery. To most of you guys you wouldn’t know what that means, but that means my great grandparents were slaves, my mother’s grandparents were slaves,” said Ken, co-owner of DoneRite Soulfood. “So when I come here and I am cooking my foods, you can taste all the years of love and heritage in my cooking. It makes you want to come back because you know it’s going to be done right.”
Ken added that he appreciated the festival for letting him participate. Just three hours into the multicultural festival he started to run out of his main entrees, so he considers it a success.
The event sponsors have been growing year by year for the Taste of the Junction. This year the city of West Des Moines was a sponsor and so was the Polk County Board of Supervisors. Long is happy the event now has a large outreach to people in the community and she said anyone is welcome to come have fun, regardless of where they are from.
“And we have always said, it doesn’t matter if you live here, if you work here or you just come down here to play, this is a place for all of us,” said Long.