Como Cookout to return on October 3

The neighborhood tradition, featuring free food, mini-golf and entertainment, will resume for the first time since 2019.


Emily Urfer

The Van Cleve Park sign sits in Van Cleve Park on Wednesday, Sept. 29. Van Cleve will be hosting the “Como Cookout” on Saturday, Oct. 2.

by Hanna Van Den Einde

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the date of the event due to the weather forecast. 

The Como Cookout, a neighborhood barbeque event, will return on Oct. 3 from 1 p.m to 4 p.m at Van Cleve Park for the first time since before the pandemic, inviting neighbors to enjoy free food, entertainment and activities.

The event will include mini-golf, an obstacle course and free food such as sambusas from Afro-Deli and Qdoba mini burrito bowls.

Jessica Focht-Perlberg, executive director of the Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA), said they wanted to branch out from the style of the event in past years.

“There usually has been a focus on bringing some different kinds of cultural influences,” Focht-Perlberg said. “We’re excited to have the sambusa option to offer a different cultural cuisine, and also something that represents a little bit broader dietary preferences as well.”

While many other activities will be offered, Focht-Perlberg said traditions such as face-painting and arm-wrestling contests will not be present in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

A flyer for the Como Cookout, which will take place Oct. 3 from 1 p.m to 4 p.m at Van Cleve Park. Photo courtesy of Jessica Focht-Perlberg.

SECIA partnered with the University of Minnesota Office of Off Campus Living for the cookout. Grace Sweeney is a neighborhood liaison for the Office of Off Campus Living and said she worked with SECIA to get a grant to set up mini-golf.

“We were looking for different ways to create an interactive activity that all ages will enjoy, so we landed on mini-golf and I’m excited about that,” Sweeney said.

The cookout will also feature live music and dance performances.

Zehra Hassan is a singer and pre-law student at the University. Hassan said she is looking forward to performing at the cookout because she invested a lot of time into her songs.

“It’s the first time that I’ve really gotten to showcase my original music for what it is,” Hassan said. “I’m really excited to do that.”

Phillip Saint John is a hip-hop artist who will be performing at the cookout. Saint John has lived in the area since November 2020 and decided to perform after seeing a flyer for the event.

“I just wanted to connect and figure out a way to get more involved with the community and just spread some positivity, light and truth from my own perspective and journey,” Saint John said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the community interacts and how we can come together.”