Soy and Tofu Fest at new venue June 4

Ad_11x8_5Major changes are in store for the sixth annual Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival, which will be held Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at a new venue: The Event Center at Saint Mary’s Center, 1111 Gough St. (at Geary Boulevard) in San Francisco’s Japantown. It will feature live entertainment, soy- and tofu-related vendors, free samples, an educational component highlighting the various uses of soy, audience participation games including a Tofu Eating Contest, a children’s activity area and a Soy and Tofu Dessert Competition.

Co-emcees are KTVU Fox 2 reporter Jana Katsuyama and NBC Bay Area traffic anchor Mike Inouye.

“We’re thrilled to bring the festival back this year, in tribute to the super soybean, at an exciting new venue,” said Nichi Bei Foundation President Kenji G. Taguma. “The new venue poses new possibilities and greater rewards than an outdoor festival. For one, with the indoor venue, we are not subject to inclement weather in this El Niño year, which has rained out two most recent festivals. In addition, we save a lot on expenses, as the venue has built-in facilities and amenities that we do not have to rent, while conserving volunteer burden.”

Most important, Taguma notes, is that the Nichi Bei Foundation needed to make the event an effective fundraiser in order to survive, including reducing costs and increasing revenue. “We think the combination of upgraded professional entertainment — including a very rare San Francisco performance by one of the country’s premier taiko groups, San Jose Taiko — and more free samples make the event well worth the admission. We’re proud to add the jazzy stylings of the East Bay’s Murasaki Ensemble Trio, the big band feel appeal of the high-energy Cynthia Lin and the Blue Moon All Stars based in San Francisco, and the Sacramento region’s popular family band — the children of the College Fund Street Band — to the mix, adding a diverse regional representation.”

The new admission fee — $10 in advance, $15 at the door, and free for children 10 and under — adds to proceeds from sponsorships, vendors, some food sales and a raffle help the Nichi Bei Foundation continue to publish the Nichi Bei Weekly — the first nonprofit ethnic community newspaper of its kind in the country — and its Website, www.nichibei.org.

A number of new vendors join favorites of the past this year, including a host of free samples from Kikkoman Pearl Soy Milk and Kikkoman sauces, SoyJoy, San Jose Tofu, Megumi Natto, Morinaga Tofu, Hodo Soy and the like.

The Festival will also feature the popular mascots Tofu Panda and Cutie Tofutti.

Major sponsors include Kikkoman, the San Francisco Japantown Foundation, California Bank & Trust, Union Bank and PG&E. Media sponsors are NBC Bay Area, Crossings TV, Nichi Bei Weekly, Korea Times, J Weekly, The New Fillmore and Hyphen Magazine.

For more information or to order tickets, visit: www.soyandtofufest.org.

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