Second Annual NorCal Soy and Tofu Festival This Weekend

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SAN FRANCISCO — The second annual Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival will be held on Saturday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in San Francisco Japantown’s Peace Plaza, Post at Buchanan streets.

It will feature various soy-related vendors, an educational forum highlighting the various uses of soy, live performances, audience participation games and the Soy and Tofu Dessert Competition.

“This festival is essentially a tribute to the almighty soybean, truly one of the most versatile food products in Asian culture, if not the world,” said Kenji G. Taguma, president of the Nichi Bei Foundation and co-chair of the festival. “We’re excited about creating a fun venue to celebrate and learn about the benefits of soy and tofu, and at the same time raising critical funds to support our community-serving mission.”

While the festival is free and open to the public, proceeds from sponsorships, vendors and some food sales 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.

“Soy is very versatile and our goal is to really showcase the wonderful qualities of the ingredient and get folks really excited about it,” said Festival Co-Chair Kiyomi Tanaka. “We are excited to announce that we have expanded our food selection, with four food trucks and two new food vendors. Additionally, the entertainment line-up is jam-packed with fun and new acts this year; it’s going to be a real party!”

Among the food vendors are Hodo Soy Beanery, San Jose Tofu, Sacramento Tofu, Megumi Natto, Tofu Misozuke manufacturers Rau Om, Traveling Takoyaki and the food trucks JapaCurry, KoJa Kitchen, The Chairman Truck and Phat Thai.

The educational forum will feature talks on the making of tofu and yuba, tofu misozuke (miso-cured tofu), and soy candles that double as massage oil and lotion.

Noted entertainers include Swoop Unit, Curt Yagi and the People Standing Behind Me, and the San Francisco Taiko Dojo Rising Stars, among others.

Tanaka noted myriad reasons to attend the festival: “Not only is it delicious, educational and fun, but the organization which this festival benefits is truly amazing. As this year’s co-chair, I’ve spent a lot of time at the Nichi Bei Foundation office. For the first time ever, I got a chance to see just how hard-working and dedicated the staff is in order to keep the organization running. With such a worthy cause, it’s hard not to be excited and passionate. There is so much potential for this event, I’m eager to see how it continues to evolve and grow.”

Major sponsors include California Bank & Trust, PG&E, Xfinity, Kikkoman and Union Bank, as well as a number of community-based organizations, businesses and individuals and a host of media sponsors such as NBC Bay Area, KTSF-TV, MYX TV, Korea Times, Philippine News, Sports J and the Nichi Bei Weekly.

“We would like to thank all of our sponsors and donors at all levels for helping us to evolve and expand this unique festival,” said Taguma, noting the recent influx of sponsorships from community organizations and individuals. “We would also like to thank our unique vendors for partnering with us.

“Lastly, we thank our incredibly dedicated volunteer organizing committee for pulling this festival together, and our dozens of volunteers for helping to make this such a special event,” said Taguma, who also serves as the editor-in-chief of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

For more information, visit: www.soyandtofufest.org.

About the Foundation and Newspaper

As the board of the Nichi Bei Times decided to close the newspaper after 63 years in September 2009, a group of Nichi Bei Times staff and contributing writers, media professionals and community leaders set out to rebuild in the spirit of the pioneering Japanese immigrants, brick by brick.

They established the Nichi Bei Foundation, an educational and charitable nonprofit organization, as a means to support community organizations, shed light on community issues and document the community’s history. Just one week after the last edition of the Nichi Bei Times rolled off the presses, the first edition of the Nichi Bei Weekly was published.

Born in one of the worst economic climates in decades, with virtually no seed money, the pioneering rebirth of the Nichi Bei Foundation and the Nichi Bei Weekly was inspired by a community-serving historical legacy and a simple yet profound mission: to keep the community connected, informed and empowered.

The next big event is Nichi Bei Day with the Oakland A’s on July 8. Make reservations now at www.nichibei.org/tickets.

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