Semisweet and starchy

Illustration by hayley doshay

While they're eaten by people around the world, sweet potatoes are often regarded as the quintessential Southern food (they're found in pies, casseroles, bread and more). We're not Southern by geography, but Sacramento has its own festival to honor the semisweet, delicious and nutritious starch, too. Sponsored by the Sacramento Valley Section of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (, the 26th annual Sweet Potato Festival (free; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 14, at the Samuel C. Pannell Community Center, 2450 Meadowview Road) will serve up plenty of sweet potatoes, a sweet-potato pie contest, family fun, vendors and a variety of entertainment. Coinciding with Black History Month, the event opens with recitation of the black national anthem and the Star Spangled Banner, then continues with a recitation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech, Southern Baptist Church Praise Dancers, live jazz and several other performers.