CELEBRATING WITH FLAVOR: Staple of JuneteenthFood vendors ready, eager to serve patrons throughout weekend celebration

Eddie and Tometra Mitchell have cooked primarily at their brick and mortar restaurant for the past three years.

However, Odessa’s Juneteenth celebration gives the husband and wife duo that own Ed and Tom’s Bar-B-Que, 317 E. Murphy St., the opportunity to return to their food truck.

Tometra Mitchell said it is a little different going back to the food truck, but she enjoys seeing familiar and new faces.

“We see a lot of the same people, but then we see other people from other towns,” Tometra Mitchell said. “They compliment us on our barbeque. We get to see a lot of the same faces, because if it’s good you are going to keep on coming back."

The Juneteenth celebration began Friday and will continue through the weekend at Woodson Community Park. The Juneteenth holiday is on Wednesday, when the celebration will conclude.

Eddie Mitchell said he estimates he will sell between 400 and 500 pounds of meat over the weekend. He started preparing the meat for Juneteenth weekend on Thursday.

“We’ve been in business for 19 years and we’ve seen a lot of people and you wouldn’t believe how many people aren’t from Odessa, but they come to the celebration,” Eddie Mitchell said. “They look for Ed and Tom’s Bar-B-Que. I feel like it’s a landmark for the celebration here in Odessa. Now, they have our restaurant those people look for our restaurant.”

Juneteenth has more than 20 vendors that started setting up Friday morning. Jo Ann Davenport Littleton, the director of the Black Cultural Council of Odessa, said half the vendors are from Odessa and others are from Pflugerville, Duncanville and Austin.

“These are people that have heard about our celebration and how great it is and how large it is,” Davenport Littleton said. “They want to be a part of the celebration.”

A snowcone vendor from Pflugerville, Regina Reese, attended Odessa’s Juneteenth a couple years ago as a patron.

Reese said during a phone interview that she has family that lives in Odessa and Monahans. Her snowcone business is called Sno Island.

Reese has typical flavors like cherry, strawberry, grape, but there’s also different flavors like cantaloupe, Granny Smith apple, dill pickle and tigers blood, which is a mixture of watermelon and strawberry with a hint of coconut.

“I know for sure that we are going to have a whole lot of fun,” Reese said. “I have an awesome product and I’m excited about watching the Juneteenth festivities, as well as being a vendor participating in it.”

The food vendors will range from barbeque to fair-style cuisine to desserts.

Davenport Littleton is pleased there will be a variety of food sold during the Juneteenth celebration.

“Each food vendor as they come to purchase their booth, I kind of quiz them on what they are cooking,” Davenport Littleton said. “Most of the time, you get turkey legs and barbeque, but you have a lot of people that are cooking various types of food. The people that attend the festival are going to get a lot of different types of food, which is good.”

Eddie Mitchell said he’s honored that he has been a vendor during Odessa’s Juneteenth celebration for the better part of 19 years.

“This celebration reminds us of what freedom really is,” Eddie Mitchell said. “We have the freedom to celebrate and we have the freedom to get out in the public and be free. We have the right to celebrate, because there was times as African Americans that we couldn’t do many things growing up.”