Culture, Food, Music and Entertainment Trumps Weather at the Jamaican Jerk Festival South Florida 2014

Over 8,000 people came out to the  Jamaican Jerk Festival South Florida 2014 at Markham Park in Sunrise Florida on Sunday November 9th, 2014. The drizzling rain and cool air could not overpower the smell of Jerk-seasoned pork and chicken that filled the air from the food vendors at the 12-hour event.  The rain did not stop the music and vibrant colors of the Caribbean at the 13th Annual Jamaican Jerk Festival. Two stages with Caribbean and Jamaican folk performances provided cultural entertainment for attendees throughout the day.

There was something for everyone, young and old. For the children, there were Kids zones bouncy houses, rock climbing, contests and characters. The domino players challenged each other with a domino competition. Caribbean people love to dance and revel during any competition so there was a party zone set up just for that.

But when you come to the Jerk Festival, ultimately it is all about the “jerk”. So for food connoisseurs the Publix Culinary Pavilion was the place to be. There were many workshops in the pavilion including one hosted by Jamaican Chef Irie whose weekly cooking segment airs on the “Caribbean Diaspora TV” show on South Florida TV – TV33, Sunday mornings. The pavilion was also the host area of the Jerk Festival cook-off and food challenge.  The competition was intense with many of the contestants taunting each other in “good fun”.

Jamaican Consul General Franz Hall challenged other Jamaican celebrities and VIP’s including Wayne Golding, Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board representative for Southern United States in the Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge.  Consul General went on to win the Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge.  Simeon Hall, who flew in from the Bahamas, won the Celebrity Chef Throw Down. The Jerk Cook-off winners were Rocco Nankervis (1st place) David Stample (2nd) and Jimmie Jackson (3rd).  Mr. Jackson was last year’s Jerk Cook-off winner. The Kidz Quick Fire Challenge winner was Johanna Andrea Diaz.

The stage show portion of the festival began at 5:20 pm. Our hosts/MC for the show would be the talented comedian Chris Johnny Daley and Jody Ann Gray. They were excellent and had the audience dancing, singing & laughing. They had great chemistry.

It seemed fitting that the gospel singers Sharon Wies and Craig Hall opened the show praising God and giving thanks for the day. They were very powerful voices of praise.

Next was the electrifying band Code Red who electrified the audience with reggae sounds.
Upcoming Jamaican artist Tydal entered the stage and brought the crowd down when he sang his hit songs “Silent Warrior” and “Tell dem fi farm”.

Inner Circle as usually was a crowd pleaser. Their set included tributes to many reggae greats as well as many of their own hits songs including “Sweat (A La La La La Long) ”. They ended their set as expected with “Bad boys” using many improvisions to include the audience. They would be a hard act to follow.

Duane Stephenson’s performance was on track.  A beautiful voice that is definitely keeping the spirit of true reggae music alive, especially with his hit song “August Town”

Dean Fraser is like no other – he never disappoints. His saxophone rendition of many reggae hits songs, including Bob Marley, was soothing as the night descended on the crowd.

Taurus Riley aka Singy Singy was electrifying…he had the crowd rocking…not only was he blessed with an amazing voice, but also his ability to connect with the crowd…awesome performance.  The crowd sang along to “She’s Royal” and could not get enough of Taurus Riley.

Luciano was as always in his zone & had to shed some knowledge on the crowd during his performance. We would have loved a little more from him. He stopped in the midst of his set to pay a very nice tribute to the legendary Mr. John Holt, who recently passed away.

Overall, the bands & entertainers delivered, they came out to entertain. They left the audience wanting for more. Would say, the best South Florida Jerk Festival yet….