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“Taste of South” festival shuts down due to safety concerns | #schoolsaftey

In a surprising turn of events, vendors at the “Taste of the South” festival, a free family friend event, held at George Washington High School, were abruptly asked to pack up and leave the premises.

The incident occurred during preparations for the second day of the event, which aims to showcase southern cuisine in the Mile High City. 

Event organizer and owner of the festival, Evangelina Williams, expressed her disappointment, stating, “I feel like DPS made me let down my community and my cause and my mission for the city.”

With over 70 vendors scheduled to attend, some traveling over 700 miles, and about 40 local the sudden shutdown has resulted in significant financial losses for many. 


Teal Martin, owner of Teapotz Catering in Las Vegas shared her frustration, saying, “I came last year from Vegas and I anticipated the same thing this year since it was smaller and it was all weekend, and I anticipated to cook for 18,000 people.”

But that did not happen, instead, she lost out on thousands of dollars. Martin expressed she was hoping to make about $12,000.

“I know it is not the Taste of the South’s fault, it’s just very disheartening to know these antics are going on when it comes to minorities,” said Martin.

According to the school district, organizers were told to hire 10 DPD officers on top of school campus safety and patrol officers.

The district says the DPD officers were not hired. The festival was aimed to be a family-friendly event, they had bouncy houses, small businesses, food vendors, and music, including a performance from Atlanta rapper Yung Joc on Saturday. The festival brought in up to 10,000 people throughout the day on Saturday.

According to Scott Pribble, a spokesperson for DPS, the number of security personnel has to do with the anticipated size of the crowd. 

Williams however, says she had the security necessary at her event and Denver police were present.


“DPD was involved in this as well, they had told us the gang violence going on in the community was dangerous and they would put a task force in place outside of the perimeter in Leetsdale Drive and they patrolled all day,” said Williams.

According to Williams, there were eight Denver police officers and four patrol cars in the area.

Still, event organizers feel this is unjust.

“I honestly feel like we are being targeted because we are the first minorities to put on an event to this magnitude without a single mishap, there wasn’t a shooting, there wasn’t a fight, there was nothing here” said Williams.


According to Denver Public Schools, the Taste of the South festival was cancelled due to a lack of security personnel. DPS said in a statement to CBS News Colorado that they notified the organizers about the shutdown on Saturday saying:

The safety of every event that occurs on Denver Public Schools’ property, whether it is a DPS event or a private event, is something that we take very seriously. The “Taste of the South” event scheduled for Aug. 19 and 20 at George Washington High School was cut short by the Denver Public Schools Department of Climate and Safety due to safety concerns from a lack of security personnel.

When planning the event, the organizers were advised how many DPD police officers, DPS Campus Safety Officials and patrol officers would be required. After the event started on Saturday, Aug. 19, the required number of safety personnel that had been agreed to was not met. Due to safety concerns Saturday evening, the event was shut down at 7 p.m. When organizers were not able to secure the number of officers that were required and had been agreed to for the anticipated crowd size for Sunday, the DPS Department of Climate and Safety canceled the event. 

However, the organizers claim that they were not informed until Sunday. The event organizers have revealed that they spent approximately $100,000 to organize this event. They are now requesting reimbursement from DPS for their vendors.


In response to the cancellation, some of the vendors who were scheduled to participate in the Taste of the South event relocated to Brother Jeff’s Cultural Event Center, as he graciously opened his doors for the community. One vendor, Renee Giron with 5280 Chillin and Grillin says she donated meals to the homeless instead of throwing the meals away.

Last year, the Taste of the South festival was held at Civic Center Park.

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