Florida Jerk Festival 2022 was presented by Full-A-Vybez Entertainment and took place last month on Memorial Day in Lake Worth, Florida’s John Prince Park—which was a change from previous years where it was held in Palm Beach (at the South Florida Fairgrounds). Indeed, the Florida Jerk Festival is arguably the premier Caribbean-centered food festival in Florida. The 19th annual staging of the Florida Jerk Festival was much anticipated in that it was paused in 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. It did, however, return last year in 2021 and the Festival drew 10,000 patrons—including reggae superstar Shaggy who headlined the event’s concert segment.
Mr. Damian Tater—who founded the Florida Jerk Festival reportedly was anticipating that this year’s installment of the Festival would surpass last year’s in terms of attendance. And it appeared Mr. Tater’s premonition was correct, especially when looking at the large crowds that attended. Also attending the festivities were Jamaica’s Consul General to Southern U.S.A., Oliver Mair and Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, and the Managing Director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange—Dr. Marlene Street Forrest.
This marvelous outdoor festival event afforded patrons the opportunity to revel in Caribbean culture and indulge themselves in Jamaican jerk cuisine that included including jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk fish, jerk lobster, jerk ice cream, and even jerk ackee ‘n saltfish. What’s more, this year’s staging of the Festival featured a number of new attractions—including mixologist sampling (courtesy of Duke and Dame, salty Carmel whisky brand, an updated interactive kids zone, a newly curated Jerk Cook-Off, a food demo, as well as a VIP section and Cabana seating area situated close to the stage.
A Fun, Family-Friendly Event
Indeed, the Florida Jerk Festival has always strived to be a fun event that is family-friendly. In that spirit, the ‘Kid Zone’ featured a number of fun-oriented activities, including a bounce house. As such, families definitely had a good time with their kids being able to enjoy themselves in a carnival-like atmosphere.
Jerk Cook-Off Competition Segment
Yet another fun-filled and tasty activity at the Florida Jerk Festival 2022 was the newly added Jerk Cook-Off where top-notch chefs showcased their culinary skills with respect to jerk-style cooking. The Jerk Cook-Off was co-hosted by Charmaine Fenton (Media Personality) and Nicky Gelin aka ‘Nicky G’ (who hosts M.I.A. Soul for Legacy/MIA Magazine).
The judging panel for the Cook-Off included Conchita Pleasant (Founder of Nefertiti’s Secrets); Wilkin Brutus (Reporter and Producer for WLRN); Sophia Nelson (President/CEO of S.A. Nelson & Associates); Mikesha Murray (Store Manager, TD Bank AVP); Carla Timm (WPLG Account Representative); and Denella Ri’chard (Traveling with Denella Ri’Chard). These judges evaluated the Cook-Off competitors by tasting various dishes that included slow-cooked jerk meat over a wood fire, often marinated with scotch bonnet peppers, allspice (pimento) and thyme. WLRN is one of the judges for the event.
Aside from the multitude of vendors and their delicious Jerk dishes to choose from, there were sizzling live performances later in the evening as part of the Festival’s concert segment—which featured top name reggae, dancehall, and soca acts. On the bill for the concert were the legendary Fab 5 band from Jamaica, Yaskta, Iyara, Destra (Trinidadian soca star), Baby Cham, Ding Dong and his Ravers Clavers dancing crew. Zeke Don and Safaree Samuels also made an appearance to perform alongside Ding Dong.
Fab 5 Band in Vintage Form
Up And Coming Reggae Artist, Yaksta, Showed Off His Musical Talents
‘Queen of Bacchanal’, Destra’s Performance Was Dazzling
Dancehall Artist, Iyara, Displayed His Lyrical Dexterity as a ‘Yaadman Up Inna Farrin’
Baby Cham Shared His ‘Ghetto Story’
Ding Dong, Ravers Clavers, Popeye Caution, Zeke Don, Safaree Put On The Dancing Moves With New Smash Hit Song – ‘Ochi’
Jamaica’s jerk style seasoning and cooking is undoubtedly special and unique not only in the kitchen, but also where the island’s vibrant culture is concerned. In fact, jerk is like a national heirloom to Jamaica so it is befitting that the Florida Jerk Festival is dedicated to the all things jerk, especially when considering its undeniable, spicy flavor that seemingly goes well with everything—even ice cream. And so, it was certainly nice to see the Annual Florida Jerk Festival continuing to grow and evolve while also celebrating the rich mouthwatering culinary scene in South Florida.
All photos by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.