Back by popular demand, community residents will once again get a taste of the Islands when the 2010 Central Jersey Caribbean Festival will celebrate the music, people and culture of the West Indies.
Due to the tremendous success of the event last year, the Hamilton St. Business & Community Organization (HSBCC), in partnership with the Jamaica Organization of New Jersey (JON-J) and the Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition (SCCDC), will host this year’s free event from noon to 7 p.m. at the same site held last year, 720 Hamilton St., in the Hamilton Street business section of Franklin Township.
“Celebrating cultural diversity is what America is all about,” said Efren Dato, HSBCC executive director. “June is Caribbean-Heritage month and with statistics from the 2000 Census showing that Caribbeans comprised 16.2 percent of the 238,572 foreign-born people in New Jersey, the festival will allow us to appreciate the uniqueness of all cultures.”
The CJCF has also attracted several corporate and local sponsors, including Verizon, Lener, Myler & Co., area restaurants and community organizations. It will also give a financial boost to the small-business community as local vendors will be on hand to offer everything from food to arts and crafts.
Set against a musical backdrop of rhythmic reggae, calypso music traditional dances, the festival will feature popular cuisine such as beef patties, curried dishes and jerk delicacies. Headline entertainer, Ed Robinson, will perform his hit single “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” with sounds by “Eternal Flame.”
“I am honored to be a part of this event, as it gives me the opportunity to work with this outstanding organization,” Robinson said. “Secondly, this event allows me to use my music to unite and inspire a fresh view of Jamaica and its culture to the local community and Caribbean people, since recent events in Jamaica may have cast a shadow over our country. One June 26, people will also see some of the cultural traditions of Jamaica that will help strengthen, educate and bridge gaps. This festival will help uplift and empower all of us.”
Other exciting performances include the New Jersey Orators, Inspira Arts, upcoming performer Dynasty and a magic show aimed at young children. Several government officials, business executives, community leaders and organizations are also expected to attend.
One organizer suggested the day would be a mini vacation for residents.
“A significant number of people of Caribbean heritage reside right here in Central Jersey and we are expecting these families as well as all others who love everything Caribbean to come to this festival,” said Elsie Foster-Dublin, president of JON-J. “If only for a few hours, people will get a real flavor of our islands.”
The festival is also a lure for those whose roots grow far from the Caribbean.
“Our local businesses are really excited about the festival,” said Patrick Gianotto, the HSBCC’s president. “We have always embraced our Caribbean brothers and sisters in the business district and on June 26, we’ll get to relax, and ‘lime’ as they say in the Islands.”