By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

        (Inglewood, CA.) The City of Inglewood, Taste of Inglewood and 102.3FM Radio Free KJLH teamed up to present the Taste of Inglewood Big Game Festival, or Taste of Inglewood Experience Market Street Vibez, Pregame Extravaganza.

        The festive occasion was held on Thursday, February 10, through Saturday, February 12, 2022, on Market Street, between Regent and Nutwood Street, during the Super Bowl LVI Weekend.

        The festival drew thousands of local residents, and visitors from the Greater Los Angeles region as well as out of state visitors.

        Everyone gathered for three-days of great food, stellar entertainment, and marketplace vending and exhibitors.

        Taste of Inglewood Big Festival ranked up in the top tier of best Super Bowl LVI events. The best part is that you didn’t have to ruin your carefully crafted monthly budget to attend the festival. This was by far the hottest ticket in town for the money, can we all say FREE in unison.

        The City of Inglewood won the coin toss. The elected to take the football and scored big time with foodies, music aficionados and football fans for the Taste of Inglewood Big Game Festival. Attendees strolled up and down-Market Street to peruse the offerings of 100 vendors/exhibitors, sample the mouthwatering treats from the smorgasbord of food trucks and food booths, get updated health screens, and pick up information from the community resources tables, while listening to some great music. Everyone was in attendance could agree that the Taste of Inglewood Big Game Festival provided a perfect Trifecta- Food, Entertainment and Positive Vibes.

        Speaking of food, Red’s Flavor Table, 254 N. Market Street, not too far from the Taste of Inglewood. Red’s Flavor Table provided catering in the hospitality area for the Main Stage. Catering to serve the musicians, VIP’s and Sponsors is a great testament to the popularity of Red’s Flavor Table a gem on Market Street. The menu for Friday consisted of red beans and rice, mac & cheese, catfish, ribs and brisket. The menu for Saturday featured fried and baked chicken, veggies and shrimp Marilyn pasta. Now that I made you hungry, you owe it to yourself, your family, friends and fellow co-workers to place your next order or better yet, drop in for a visit. You will not be disappointed.

Centinela Hospital Medical Center, Charisse Nicholson and Rosalba Cambria (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        The success of the Taste of Inglewood Big Game Festival was due to the sponsors, MVP’s (Most Valuable Partners). Taste of Inglewood Big Game Festival sponsors were City of Inglewood, California Department of Public Health, WOW Media, Verizon, Centinela Hospital Medical Center, 102.3FM Radio Free KJLH, MLK Community Healthcare, 2nd by Second CPR, Cali 93.9, Black Beauty and Wellness Foundation, California Black Women’s Health Project, Blue Shield California, Luxe Beauty and Wellness Boutique, Inglewood Family Medical Clinic Los Angeles Clippers and Intuit Dome and Republic Services.

        The program got underway on a warm evening, Thursday, February 10th. DJ Luijay of 93.9 was on deck to spin tracks in between acts. Visitors from Los Angeles and out of state were impressed with “This is How We Do It” positive and uplifting vibes that permeated the three-day extravaganza. The stellar lineup featured internationally known artists who has Los Angeles as their home base.

Councilmember Alex Padilla, Issa Rae, Mayor James T. Butts Jr., Councilmember George Dotson and Councilmember Dionne Faulk (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Mariachi Uclatlán is an award-winning student group at UCLA. The members study under the tutelage of Jesus “Chuy” Guzman. Their crowd-pleasing set focused on traditional Mexican music.

        Susie Hansen Latin Band turned up the heat with some Salsa, Cha, Cha, Cha and cumbia to the delight of the salseros dancing in the streets. They performed “Brujeria,” “Beyond the Sea,” “Estoy Pensando en Ti,” and “The Last Time I Saw Jeanine” with guest vocalist Valerie Peterson.

        Franki J thrilled the crowd with some original tunes. Franki J’s set list featured the tunes “That Girl,” “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Si Una Vez,” “El Rey” and concluded his set with a generous sprinkling of “Suga Suga.” Keep it going, you are sounding good as you are humming along to these songs.

        The City of Inglewood Saluted Vicente Fernandez, El Número Uno, the People’s Son, The King of Mexican Song, “Chente”, legendary Mexican musician. The tribute consisted of a touching and engaging PowerPoint presentation with archival photos and concert footage.

        Conguero Poncho Sanchez topped off the evening with a refreshing “Mint Julep” followed by a tasty, but fiery serving of Latin Jazz and Salsa, marinated in a lot of soul.

        Friday, February 11th- My enjoyment of the festival began with Cherelle on the Nutwood and Market Stage. Cherelle performed “Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” “Saturday Love,” “Everything I Missed at Home,” to name a few.

        Surface followed on the same stage with “Closer Than Friends,” “The First Time,” “You Are My Everything,” and “Shower Me With Your Love.”

        Howard Hewitt put on an excellent show performing “I’m For Real,” “Show Me,” “Once, Twice, Three Times,” Second Time Around,” “For The Lover in You,” “Somewhere There’s a Love,” and “A Night to Remember.”

        Biscuits and Gravy dished up a set of funk and classic soul for the Old School class of students dancing in the streets.

        Castella, Jon B, Switch, Chante Moore and Confunkshun performance was entertaining and outstanding as they took the crowd down memory lane.

        Saturday, February 12th- The Nutwood and Market stage was on fire with the energetic and enthusiastic sets by Malik Rice, Kida The Great, Zeia and N’Sessions, Tia P, Yo Yo and Friends, Dana Dane and Dougie Fresh.

        Club Nouveau opened day three with timeless hits from their extensive catalog. 

        Issa Rae was presented the key to the city of her native Inglewood, becoming the first person in its 114- year history to receive the honor. Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr., presented Issa Rae with an Award of Recognition, who dubbed her “the Queen of Inglewood.” Mayor James T. Butts Jr. presented Issa Rae with the key to the city after a brief video. 

        Issa Rae stated, “I’m a little emotional, I’m trying to be a thug right now. The mayor really kind of flabbergasted me in that this is the first key in 114 years, so that’s a huge honor. I just want to thank you all so much for your support- thank you to the mayor, thank you to the City of Inglewood for making it so easy for us to film here, for helping us showcase this city that I love so much.”

        Issa Rae continued “I have to give love to my grandparents who have lived here, have live in Briarwood for a long time and who established my first point of view of Inglewood and love the city themselves; my mom and my sister who live here actively and just for being here.” I’m truly honored to receive this. I will always put on for my city: Inglewood, South L.A., Stand Up.”

TeaMarr (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Issa Rae remained on stage to introduce performer TeaMarr, the first artist on her Raedio Music Label. TeaMarr gained new fans while brilliantly and superbly performing a set of original tunes “I’m That,” “Colors,” “Pipe Dreams,” “Shoo Fly,” “Stress Free,” “Show Me Love,” “Jarrrvis,” and “One Job.”

        Lenny Williams, former vocalist with Tower of Power was captivating during his time in the spotlight. He immediately connected with the audience on the tunes “The Love I Lost,” “I’ll Be There,” “This Time It’s Real,” “You Are Still a Young Man,’ “I Could Never Make You Unhappy.” He caused a few people to blush when he got down and dirty with the blues on “Didn’t Know that It Was Your Momma” and other double entendre banter. Lenny Williams held the crowd in the palm of his hands as he continued with “Clean Up Women” followed by a few choruses of songs by Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and The Temptations, and concluded his set with “Cause, I Love You.”

        The program continued with the dynamic and soulful sounds of Loose Ends. Their high-octane set featured the tunes “Stay A Little While Child,” “Gonna Make You Mine,” “Don’t You Ever,” “Real Love,” “Watching You,” “Mr. Bachelor.” They slowed the tempo down for “You Can’t Stop the Rain” while featuring the background singers in the spotlight. They revved it up again on “Hanging on a String” and “Slow Down.”

        Tony Tone Toni and Original Lakeside took the party atmosphere up a notch in their respective time slot to close out the Taste of Inglewood Big Game Festival on a rousing note. This was a perfect segue to the exciting Super Bowl LVI, between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, February 13, 2022.