Earlier this month, the Arts Park at Young Circle in Hollywood, Florida hosted the seventh staging of the Caribbean Food & Rum Festival—formerly known as the Caribbean Village Festival. The Food & Rum Festival was a tasty and musical affair in that it afforded the packed house of attendees the opportunity to take a deep dive into the most delectable Caribbean food dishes, as well as into a wide variety of rum-driven libations and cocktails.
What’s more, the sea of patrons in attendance were treated to live performances from highly acclaimed artists in reggae, dancehall, soca, and junkanoo. Hitting the stage were iconic and legendary Jamaican reggae-fusion band, Third World; veteran Jamaican singer, Barrington Levy; Barbadian ‘Queen of Soca’, Alison Hinds; Barbadian soca legend, Peter Ram, Bahamian ‘King of Junkanoo Pop’, Julien Believe; and prominent Trinidadian soca songstress, Patrice Roberts. Papa Keith from Miami’s 103.5 radio station took part in handling the evening’s onstage MC duties.
Festival featured Caribbean Village VIP Lounge, food, rum, and signature cocktail offerings
The entry gates at the Hollywood Arts Park opened at 3pm on a gorgeous weather day in South Florida. VIP patrons indulged themselves in all the top shelf amenities and comforts that the Caribbean Village VIP Lounge had to offer, including the ‘Tasting Pavilion’—which had whiskey, rum, and wine from all over the Caribbean islands. So too, signature cocktails, were blended by mixologists from Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada, Haiti, Belize and U.S. Virgin Islands—just to name a few of the islands featured.
Bahamian, Julien Believe, had everyone bouncing to the Junkanoo rhythm of his island
Hailing from the Caribbean Island of the Bahamas, Julien Thompson, popularly known as Julien Believe, has had a big impact in recent years on the Caribbean music circuit as a result of his unique, bouncy, and infectious junkanoo brand of music, which has brought the sounds of his native Bahamas to the world.
Trinidadian Soca Star, Patrice Roberts, gave a lively, up close and personal stage performance
Hailing from Toco, Trinidad & Tobago, Patrice Roberts is a prominent soca star, who often performs alongside soca giant and legend, Machel Montano. In fact, Patrice joined Machel Montano’s HD band and, as such, is a part of a number of their recordings. It is also worthy of note that she is a cousin of another big soca sensation—Bunji Garlin. Without a doubt, Patrice Roberts holds one of the most solid music catalogs among male or female artists in the soca music genre. And she certainly did not disappoint her fans at the Caribbean Food & Rum Festival, who were able to get up close and personal with Patrice who leaped of the stage to perform several songs while embraced by the crowd as she danced along.
Barrington Levy took everyone down memory lane, reminded that he is ‘Broader than Broadway’
Hailing from Clarendon, Jamaica veteran reggae and dancehall singer, Barrington Levy, took the stage to much applause and fanfare. One could write a book on Levy’s career in music, which spans decades. His mountain of hits and albums are too many to count. Arguably one of the most distinctive and powerful voices in Jamaican music, Barrington wasted no time in unleashing gems such as, ‘Prison Oval Rock’, ‘Black Roses…In My Garden’, ‘Too Experienced’, ‘She’s Mine…Everyday I love her just a little bit more’, and ‘Here I Come…I’m Broader than Broadway’. At the end of his performance, Jamaica Consul General to Southern U.S.A., Oliver Mair, presented a well-deserved accolade to Barrington Levy in recognition of his much-storied career and contributions to Jamaican music over many decades.
Barbadian ‘Queen of Soca’, Alison Hinds, at her best with a dazzling performance
Based in Barbados, British-born soca legend, Alison Hinds, is hands-down one of the most popular soca singers in the world. Fittingly nicknamed the ‘Queen of Soca’, Alison brought a lot of energy to Arts Park with a superb performance. Of course, ‘Roll it Gal’ and ‘Faluma…Ding Ding Ding’ were crowd favorites.
Iconic Jamaican Third World Band, Reggae Ambassadors strutted their stuff with a slew of their hit songs
Hailing from Jamaica, the reggae island, Third World band were in top form with a memorable performance. One of the longest-lived reggae bands of all time, Third World is in its 47th year, and stands amongst Jamaica’s most consistent and popular reggae-fusion acts in the international sphere—blending elements and sounds of R & B, funk, pop, rock, dancehall, and rap. It was so refreshing to hear their sound the Caribbean Food & Rum Festival, as they dished out timeless hits, such as ‘Forbidden Love’, ‘Reggae Ambassador’, ‘Now That We Found Love’, ‘More Work To Be Done’, ‘Try Jah Love’, and ’96 Degrees in the Shade’.
Third World’s set also featured a special and touching moment, as Antigua & Barbudan reggae singer, Causion, joined the band on stage for a few songs. Causion announced that he surmounted his battle with colon cancer, and that he was glad to be surrounded by so much love. Great news, indeed especially in the midst of the joy of Christmas season.
Special thanks to Lindell Douglas, president and CEO of Caribbean Village Entertainment and to all who contributed to making this year’s staging of Caribbean Food & Rum Festival such a marvelous event.
All photos by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.