Soul Food Dinner raises money for historic Rogersville school

Jeff Bobo • Oct 8, 2019 at 3:13 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Soul food connoisseurs look forward to the second Friday in October every year, when Rogersville's Price Public Community Center hosts its annual home cooked fundraiser.

The 16th annual Soul Food Dinner is Friday at the community center (PPCC) and coincides with the Rogersville Heritage Days Cruise-In. That gives diners an opportunity to fill up on homemade beef brisket, beans, taters, collards and desserts and then walk it off a couple blocks away in Downtown Rogersville, which will be packed with classic vehicles.

The Soul Food Dinner is also the most important fundraiser of the year for the PPCC, helping keep the doors open at that historic location for the rest of the year.

The history of Price Public

The property where the school is located on the corner of Hasson Street and Spring Street was dedicated to African-American education in 1868.

The current Price School building was completed in 1922 and operated until 1958, when it closed.

The nearby African American Swift College had already closed in 1955 and became Swift High School, which was converted to a K-12 school when Price closed.

After schools were integrated in the 1960s, the Price School building slowly fell into disrepair while being used as a cannery, a community center and for storage.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Thanks to a group of alumni and concerned citizens, it underwent a restoration beginning in the mid-1990s, reopening as the PPCC in 2003.

The Swift Museum, which is dedicated to the former African American college and high school that was across the street, opened in 2008.

The Soul Food Dinner

There are four dinner times: 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m., with 10 tables per seating accommodating six people per table.

The entire menu is home cooked and includes all-you-can-eat beef brisket, pinto beans and fixings, corn bread, buttered potatoes, collard greens, corn, tea and coffee and homemade desserts.

Entertainment will be provided by versatile musician Tommy White, who performs songs from several genres. The Swift Museum, which was the subject of a PBS documentary in 2016, will also be open during the dinner.

“We survive on the proceeds”

PPCC Secretary Cassandra Palmer told the Times News on Monday that the community center is able to stay open and keep rental cost low for its main room due to the annual success of the Soul Food Dinner

“We're nonprofit, and we survive on the proceeds of the Soul Food Dinner and people using the building,” Palmer said. “We have a big room where we charge a small fee for people to have parties and events like wedding showers and reunions and things like that. Without the Soul Food Dinner every year, we would have a really hard time keeping the doors open.”

The cost is $30 per person, and tickets can be purchased all this week at the PPCC office during business hours.

There a possibility you can buy a ticket at the door if it’s not sold out. But it’s a sure bet to get a seat by calling ahead and making a reservation at (423) 921-3888.

The event is co-sponsored by the American Legion Aux. 231.