Home » Central NJ Museum to Celebrate the Food of the African Diaspora and the Power of Sisterhood with 3rd Oxtail Fest Event at Hopewell Valley Vineyards

Central NJ Museum to Celebrate the Food of the African Diaspora and the Power of Sisterhood with 3rd Oxtail Fest Event at Hopewell Valley Vineyards

by Community Contributor

 On Saturday March 23 at 4pm the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), Central New Jersey’s first museum dedicated to Black history, will celebrate its 3rd Annual Oxtail Fest at Hopewell Valley Vineyards.

Oxtail is the meat from the tail of a cow. Across many cultures worldwide, oxtail has been a culinary mainstay for centuries but in the United States it is particularly associated with African American and Caribbean cuisine. Eating “high on the hog” was not afforded to enslaved peoples along the transatlantic triangle slave trade route. The enslaved were given discarded cuts of meat such as the hooves, feet, intestines, heads, and tails of the animal while their captors enjoyed the prime cuts. Yet what the captors failed to recognize was that with imagination, innovation, proper preparation, and love, these throw-away cuts would be transformed into life-sustaining and exquisitely flavorful dishes. Traditional African methods involve slow-cooking oxtail to achieve unparalleled tenderness and flavor. However, like oysters, kale and many other staples of working-class culinary traditions, oxtail has undergone the effects of gentrification. With a soaring price-per-pound, the once lowly oxtail is now a luxury dish affordable only on special occasions for many.

Donnetta Johnson, Executive Director of SSAAM, is excited to announce the return of Oxtail Fest, SSAAM’s annual fundraiser which will take place during Women’s History Month. “This year’s event focuses on the power of contemporary sisterhood by honoring the kinships forged among African American women for the purpose of survival,” says Johnson. “Traditionally Black women who might have otherwise been destroyed by the atrocities of kidnapping, enslavement and the legacy of those impacts on the African American family, survived by holding each other up, supporting one another, and collectively holding their often fragmented families together. Sit down and let me feed you baby, is what my auntie’s would say to me when I found myself at their table after a stressful day at school or work. This was a powerful and practical expression of love. Food has been our love language and a tool to comfort, encourage, survive and thrive to the present day.” With a nod to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and its film and Broadway adaptations, shades of victorious purple will figure prominently in the spirit and design of the event.

As in previous SSAAM Oxtail Fest events, the feast will feature a diverse array of specialties from the African American, Caribbean and Afro-Latin diaspora. In addition to oxtail delicacies, guests will be treated to Jerk chicken, as well as a wide array of delicious side dishes. The meal will feature staples such as collards, okra, Jollof rice, cornbread, croquetas, empanadas, and an assortment of traditional desserts. The menu will offer a wide selection of culturally-based vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, and gluten-free options. 

This year’s event will be held at the 75-acre Hopewell Valley Vineyards, a beloved local gem. Combining the refinement of Old World traditions with the innovation of the New World, this vineyard in the foothills of the Sourland Mountain brings three generations of Tuscan wine-making to the scenic landscape of Hopewell Valley and offers a fresh interpretation of American wine culture, creating treasured moments for all who visit.

Proceeds from SSAAM’s 3rd Annual Oxtail Fest event will fund SSAAM operations, research, and programming to preserve, protect, and share African American history, historic sites, and contributions in the Sourland Mountain region and Central New Jersey. SSAAM programs create the opportunity for conversations that advance healing, community cohesion and repair the harms of structural racism.

Supporters can also contribute to the event with a business sponsorship or by purchasing an ad in the Oxtail Fest Program.

Space is limited. Event tickets, sponsorships and program ads are available now at bit.ly/OxtailFest2024

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