NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Joshua McDowl got ready for another day of hungry crowds, the smell of his smoker filled the air at Hadley Park. His food truck, Smoke Boss Soul & BBQ, was one of 30 vendors at the Nashville Black Market Food Festival.
“I crank the smoker up, just get the smell rolling, I throw some wood in and all of a sudden it’s like a people attractor,” said McDowl.
The festival was a first of its kind for its founders who are also responsible for the Nashville Black Market.
“We got vendors that sell seasoning for food, we got vendors that are selling funnel cakes, we got vegan vendors, we got BBQ vendors, we got soul food vendors,” said co-founder Carlos Partee.
Vendors from across Tennessee and cities like New Orleans and Detroit came for the two-day festival.
“I think being at these events where you are able to work along with other food vendors or other entrepreneurs in the same field as you – you’re able to connect, network and learn from each other,” said co-founder Javvon Jones.
With a focus on growing Black-owned small businesses, organizers wanted to empower entrepreneurs in what can be a difficult industry.
“It’s not easy, it’s a struggle,” said Partee. “It takes you five to ten years for you to actually jump off, as they say.”
As for McDowl, business at the festival was good. “I had a line almost to the stage. People, they were waiting patiently,” said Partee. “Sold out of everything, had to go restock this morning. Yesterday was amazing.”
He said next year he’ll be back. “Next year I’ll have two trailers then.”