Culture fest for vendors set for Feb. 17 in Watts

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

WATTS — One of the best kept secrets of this community is the fact that it is home to hundreds of enterprising vendors who sell a variety of colorful crafts and food items year round.

Unfortunately, many of these vendors lack a permanent location to sell their goods to the public.

To mitigate the need, the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, with sponsorship from Wells Fargo Bank, will hold the first Watts Culture Fest, a vendor marketplace, from noon to 6 p.m. Feb. 17 on the Watts Labor Community Action Committee campus, 10950 S. Central Ave.

The committee, a long-standing cultural and economic institution in Watts, has committed itself to preserving and celebrating the neighborhood’s cultural heritage by  hosting the fest twice a month throughout the year. The fest will support local vendors eager to sell their wares to the public.

“We wanted to create an environment so that vendors could grow as a business without overhead costs such as rent and utilities,” said Tanicka “Tea” Vickers, the committee’s director of cultural enrichment. “Now that we’re launching this festival, we have vendors who will be able to be self-sufficient through the vendor marketplace.

“The Watts Culture Fest will celebrate Watts year round. Watts is ready to pour into itself. It’s time for Watts to grow,” Vickers added.

Along with nearly a dozen vendors who will be present to sell their goods to the public, the day will be filled with food, games, music and more. Watts native and celebrated chef Keith Corbin, owner of the Alta Adams restaurant in mid-city Los Angeles, will be on hand to share his food.

Zapatos (Jose Tapia), a self-employed sneaker artist and Watts resident, will host two sneaker design workshops for children and adults alike. 

“My mission driving my journey is to one day start my own nonprofit art center for the youth in my community,” Zapatos said. “We tend to lose many kids and young adults to the streets due to lack of guidance. Therefore, I hope to one day help change the narrative.”

Activities at the festival will include a youth gaming lounge that will feature Xbox, PS4, Dance-Dance Revolution; an adult gaming lounge that will feature dominoes and spades tournaments; roller skating and skateboarding that will be available at Joseph Randall Skate Park; a backyard games tournament and live DJs that will keep the crowd entertained.

The Watts Culture Fest will have free admission and attendees can park for free on the WLCAC lot. 

For more information, call 323-563-5639.