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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

The Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival is ‘more than just greens’

collard greens.jpeg
Courtesy Boyzell Hosey
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The fifth annual Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival in St. Petersburg is a celebration of African-American cuisine and culture where all are welcome.

This week on The Zest Podcast, learn about the event’s origins and significance to the African-American community from festival cofounders Boyzell Hosey and Samantha Harris.

Listen to the episode

Saturday, Feb. 19, marks the fifth annual Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival in St. Petersburg. It’s a celebration of African-American cuisine and culture where all are
welcome.

This week on The Zest Podcast, learn about the event’s origins and significance to the African-American community from festival cofounders Boyzell Hosey
and Samantha Harris.

The two friends were leading the youth department at Bethel Community Baptist Church when they decided to sell collard greens in the church lobby as a fundraiser. It was such a success that the two friends looked into getting a permit to sell greens at the St. Petersburg Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. But that didn’t work out.

“One of us—I don’t remember if it was Sam or myself—one of us said, ‘Well, let’s just start a collard green festival’ jokingly,” Hosey recalls.

They both laughed. Then they googled the idea. Soon, Hosey, Harris and their families were en route to Lithonia, Georgia, to check out the Metro-Atlanta Collard Greens
Cultural Festival. They took notes, returned to Florida and got an accountant.

Samantha Wilson, co-founder of the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival, prepares her greens during a friendly cook-off at Bethel Community Baptist Church.
Julio Ochoa/WUSF
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Samantha Wilson, co-founder of the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival, prepares her greens during a friendly cook-off at Bethel Community Baptist Church.

And that’s how the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival was born in 2018.

“First of all, it’s more than just greens,” Harris notes. In addition to a collard green cook-off, there are urban agriculture workshops, nutrition seminars, group fitness sessions, kids’ activities and more.

Each year, the daylong festival features an African-American A-lister from the culinary world. Past headliners have included James Beard Award winners Toni Tipton-Martin and Edouardo Jordan. This year’s speaker is Gabrielle E. W. Carter.

The festival takes place on the grounds surrounding the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in the historically Black neighborhood of South St. Petersburg.

Each year, approximately 3,000 people of all ages and races attend the daylong event.

“We also wanted to do something with a level of excellence, as well,” Hosey says. “We feel that’s important for the community to see—that we can pull off an event, it can be in our neighborhood, and everybody’s welcome.”

"I host a food podcast" is a great icebreaker at parties.
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