DENVER (KDVR) — The second day of the Taste of the South Festival was canceled due to a lack of security, Denver Public Schools told FOX31 Sunday. But the organizers behind the festival said they are frustrated with the decision.

The owners of Taste of the South Colorado told FOX31 that the free festival “celebrates minority and Black excellence.”

The free event scheduled for Aug. 19 and 20 had planned to feature live music, performances, vendors and southern cuisine.

The festival was at George Washington High School.

Scott Pribble, director of external communications for Denver Public Schools, told FOX31 that thousands of people attended the event Saturday, and people felt “unsafe” because of a lack of security and high attendance.

Co-owner Evangelia Williams said even with 8,000 to 10,000 attendees Saturday, they felt safe.

“There wasn’t a single hiccup yesterday, not an argument, not a confrontation, not a fight, not anything,” she said.

Pribble said DPS does not normally handle security for events, and that the organizers have to arrange it themselves. He said the organizers reached out to DPS for help with security at the last minute, and DPS was unable to provide the support.

Pribble said DPS made the decision to cancel the event Sunday for that reason.

Co-owner Eric Harris told FOX31 they were setting up for day two of the event when he got a call from DPS. He said they told him they had to shut down the event because there was not enough safety or officers.

“We paid them to be the officers to provide safety, so to tell us that the event wasn’t secure when we paid them to secure the event seems kind of backward to us,” Harris said.

  • A vendor is packing up shop after the Taste of the South event was canceled on Aug. 20, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.
  • A stage is empty after the Taste of the South event was canceled on Aug. 20, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.
  • A Denver Public Schools officer is at the scene of George Washington High School after the Taste of the South event was canceled on Aug. 20, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

DPS later released the following statement about the decision:

The safety of every event that occurs on Denver Public Schools’ property, whether it is a DPS event or a private event, is something that we take very seriously. The ‘Taste of the South’ event scheduled for Aug. 19 and 20 at George Washington High School was cut short by the Denver Public Schools Department of Climate and Safety due to safety concerns from a lack of security personnel.

When planning the event, the organizers were advised how many DPD police officers, DPS campus safety officials and patrol officers would be required. After the event started on Saturday, Aug. 19, the required number of safety personnel that had been agreed to was not met. Due to safety concerns Saturday evening, the event was shut down at 7 p.m. When organizers were not able to secure the number of officers that were required and had been agreed to for the anticipated crowd size for Sunday, the DPS Department of Climate and Safety canceled the event.”

Williams and Harris said they are disappointed, frustrated and hurt about the cancellation.

“This is for the community, this one little hiccup is not going to stop something that means so much more to this community, so much more to our people,” Williams said. “We’re gonna fight, that’s what we do, we’re fighters and we’re gonna come back from this.

Harris and Williams said they are going to make sure that there will be a Taste of the South Festival next year.