Prior to this year, South Florida’s Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival had called Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida home for 14 years. Started in 2001, the Jerk Festival in its fledgling years was sitused at C.B. Smith Park in the Pembroke Pines area of South Florida. However, this year’s 18th staging of the Festival on November 10th featured its new venue location, the Amphitheater at the Regional Park in Miramar. The Jerk Fest promoters articulated several reasons for transferring the event’s home from Sunrise to Miramar—including better infrastructure; more convenient location in terms of logistics (venue’s close proximity to I-75, a major highway artery connecting the Miami area to the Fort Lauderdale area); layout of new venue affords a fresh and heightened patron experience (with designated VIP lounge areas); and the covered Amphitheater which allows patrons to stay dry during rain showers (which can often come out of nowhere in South Florida’s tropical climate).
As it turned out, the Jerk Festival’s transfer to a new venue did exude a new vibe as evidenced by the large turnout that the event attracted this year. So too, the weather on that day was fully cooperative in its delivery of sunny skies and cool temperatures. In that climate, patrons feasted on a variety of jerk-style dishes, while supporting the plethora of craft vendors on site and also reveling in the live and festive entertainment from top acts in the reggae music industry. This year’s installment of the Festival’s music segment was headlined by: Honorable, Bugle, Renaissance Disco (DJ Delano and Jazzy T), the highly acclaimed and world renowned Third World Band (which rocked the stage in delivering their seminal song hits such as Try Jah Love, Committed, Sense of Purpose, 96 Degrees in the Shade, and Forbidden Love), and Christopher Martin who closed the festivities a little after 10 pm. Other notable happenings at South Florida’s 2019 Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival was a fashion show that showcased designs and prints from Ghana. The Grace Patty Eating Competition was another segment of the Jerk Fest that went over very well with Festival patrons. What’s more, the Culinary Pavilion as always was teaming with activity and for good reason, as the Mayor of Miramar, Wayne Messam (who is of Jamaican parentage), managed to defeat Third World member Stephen “Cat” Coore in the Publix Celebrity ‘Quick Fire’ Challenge Cook-off. In that spirit, it is to be noted that the 2019 Festival promoters honored the memory of the late, Todd Tongen, WPLG Channel 10, ABC affiliate news anchor—who was a three-time winner of the ‘Quick-Fire’ Celebrity Chef contest. In his memory, the trophy has been permanently renamed as the Todd Tongen Celebrity ‘Quick-Fire’ trophy.