It is 4:46 p.m. Sunday November 8th, 2015 and I am standing at the entrance of Markham Park in the city of Sunrise, Florida, listening to the warm-up gospel segment of the 14th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival 2015. Hundreds of vehicles (approximately 3 persons per car) stream into the park and are directed to the parking lots after drivers present their five dollar entry charge. Indications are that there is going to be a great turnout and for the first time in a while there is no threat of rain to put a damper on the evening’s festivities.
Jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk dis, jerk dat, patties, jelly coconut, roasted and boiled corn, boil dis and boil dat can be seen, as you walk down the village of food vendors. Patrons queue up to the food tents to satisfy their varied taste buds at this once per year event.
Three stages, all geared towards hosting various cultural events were being prepared, including one for the main show and highlight of the entertainment segment of the day’s event.
The annual festival has now become a family affair, as parents are encouraged to bring their little ones to the children’s corner that is stacked with bouncing houses and other attractions arranged just for them. Kudos to the promoters who see the benefits of catering to the entire family as part of their marketing strategy.
One noteworthy observation, is the involvement of the various not for profit organizations (including Kiwanis Club of Lauderdale Lakes, Partners For Youth Foundation and many others which showcase their work) partnering with the Jerk Festival principals in coordinating such a magnitudinous event.
Later, at 8:00 p.m. the live stage show began. Christopher Martin bellowed “oh lord don’t let me cheat on my girlfriend” sending his audience to an ecstatic frenzy. Cat Coore wooed the crowd with his cello performance and AJ “Pavarotti” Brown at 8:40 p.m. brought vigor and youthful energy to the internationally acclaimed Third World band singing “Try Jah love”, his rendition of this fan-favorite.
However, it was the last performer of the night, Mr. Barrington Levy who brought home nothing less than a show stopping performance, converting the audience into a sea of flag wavers as he filled them with memories of his hits. Levy was at the top of his game and added a special flavor as he brought closure to this 14th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival.
Eddy Edwards, the event’s planning committee and of course the sponsors, deserve special recognition for successfully bringing an event of this magnitude to the South Florida community. Well done guys!