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Soybean Festival in Martin helps feed thousands

By Katie Shambo
By kshambo@wbbjtv.com

WEAKLEY COUNTY, Tenn. -- Those celebrating the Soybean Festival took a break on Wednesday to lend a helping hand.

Wednesday is the festival's Faith in Community day.

David Belote is the executive director of the festival and says these few hours of volunteering help feed thousands.

"In a three-hour span, we're going to package 20,000 macaroni and cheese meals, and we're going to provide it for those who need it in the community," Belote said.

He explains what something like this means to the city of Martin. "These are the events at the festival that get to the heart of the community, and that's our effort with our festival is to get to the heart."

This is the second year the festival has teamed up with Memphis Food Initiative to pack and distribute meals to those in need.

An annual luncheon was held earlier in the day for volunteers and guests.

The coordinator of the luncheon, Steve Vantrease, believes this act of kindness serves more than one purpose.

"It's a great way for the community to unite over a common cause," Vantrease said.

The meals they packed are special to the festival, too. They call it the magic bean — the soybean, that is — and on Wednesday it helped feed thousands.

The macaroni and cheese meals they packed are special because they have the soy protein in them.

Vantrease told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News, "they are nutritionally helpful for young people who are hungry or starving."

Belote says this weekend, thousands of people from West Tennessee and the country will be in Martin for the fun.

"It really brings people together. It's a good time, and people come out and enjoy it," Belote said.

Some of the fun that is ahead this weekend includes the Little River Band that will play on Friday, and country singer Lee Brice is performing on Saturday.