The intoxicating and hypnotic rhythms of Afro-Caribbean drumming will lure Jerk Festival lovers into Markham Park, Sunrise for a spectacular display of Caribbean culture at the 17th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival on Sunday, November 11, 2018. The event, which offers a feast of jerk foods, authentic culture, and entertainment, has become a staple in South Florida’s cultural landscape and attracts thousands of people.
For cultural stage coordinator, Bridget Edwards, organizing an extraordinary program each year is essential to showcasing and preserving the culture, while educating and entertaining attendees. “We’re always finding innovative ways to present our heritage and incorporating different elements that are in line with our culture,” Edwards says.
“Under this year’s theme “Let The Drums Speak,” our Caribbean culture will reverberate from the corporate area and throughout the entire Markham Park,” says an ecstatic Edwards, adding that they are expanding the activities outside of the “Corporate Circle.” In addition to having company booths, they will feature dancers, drummers, models, and a high-energy drum circle. The festival’s organizers have also partnered with Project E.A.T. (Ecology. Agriculture. Trade), an organization dedicated to ending poverty and eliminating hunger through food security, land preservation, market access, and food safety. Project E.A.T.’s models will showcase upcycled clothing and their recycled home goods will also be on display. “This is very typical of our culture,” says Edwards, explaining that Caribbean people have always been recycling and repurposing items-in other words, “tun yuh hand and mek fashion,” she adds.
The Western Union Stage kicks off its performances at 12 noon and will continue until 3 p.m. with an exceptional show celebrating the culture through music, dance, comedy, spoken word, fashion, drama, and more. Fashion designer Cholla Williamson of Covered by Grace will feature bold and stylish African designs-all handcrafted in West Africa by skilled artisans. For lovers of Afro-Caribbean drumming and dancing, the Sasa African Dance Theater will not disappoint with their uptempo beats and moves; and for the kids, Drumming Fingers will offer instructional drumming and dancing, inviting audience participation. Author Ettosi Brooks will present a dramatized reading of her book Stori, Stori, Stori: Adventures in Rhythm, using music and dance, and Transitions author Meleisha Jocelyn will perform spoken word.
Keeping the audience engaged with his comedic genius will be Western Union Cultural Stage emcee Chris “Johnny” Daley. He’s teaming up with author and cultural performer Maxine Osbourne for a workshop to make the case that patois is a language, drawing on its linguistic qualifications and the philosophies of cultural icon Louise Bennett. Together they will delve into popular patois words, explain them, and engage audience members in a patois spelling bee and quiz for a chance to win exciting prizes.
Edwards says, “Chris is a part of the Jerk Festival family. He will do more than introduce the acts – he will perform, get audience members to join in, and may even do a little drumming himself. You never know what exciting things will happen on the Western Union Cultural Stage, that’s why we ask everyone to come out early and dance, sing, and drum with us.”
Other festival activities include cooking competitions at the Publix Culinary Pavilion, a fun reggae-soca party at the Hot Zone, and the kids will enjoy fun rides, face painting, games, and more in the Kidz Zone. Of course, you simply cannot miss what’s in store for the Main Stage entertainment with contemporary gospel groups, legendary reggae artists including Freddie McGregor and Marcia Griffiths, soca royalty Alison Hinds, and dancehall’s “Cha Cha Boy” Ding Dong.
Tickets are now on sale at the festival’s website www.JerkFestival.com and are also be available at retail outlets in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.
The 17th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival is presented by Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, Inc. in association with Partners for Youth Foundation. Sponsors are Grace Foods, Publix Supermarkets, Western Union, The Jamaica Tourist Board, Greater Ft. Lauderdale Visitors & Conventions Bureau, WAVS 1170, National Weekly and VP Records.