Anticipations are high as the promoters of this year’s Jamaican Jerk Festival, scheduled for Sunday, September 23rd, prepare for the sixth annual Jamaican Jerk Festival – presented by Air Jamaica – an event that promises to top even last year’s sensational presentation. In addition to the traditional purveyors of Jerk, drink, and things Jamaican, Markham Park, in Sunrise, Florida, will come alive with hot new attractions and enhancements to thrill festival-goers.
The hours of the festival have been extended from 10 am to 10 pm, facilitating earlier access to the park and giving visitors more time to feast on the various Jerk cuisine, absorb the island culture and all the delights of the event such as the music, dominoes, cultural stages, cooking demonstrations, rides and games for the children as well as the electric atmosphere that is the Jamaican Jerk Festival.
In an effort to improve traffic and address the parking challenges, the organizers of the festival have signed a sponsor deal with Impark, the third largest parking operator in North America to manage the parking and traffic logistics of the festival. “The partnership with Impark will assist us in making access to the event easier this year”, said Eddy Edwards, one of the organizers of the festival. “With Impark on board, patrons coming to the festival will find it much easier to enter the venue.”
Two new cultural stages, both more centrally located so as to be more intimate with the audience and closer to the food court, will provide festival patrons access and more opportunities to bask in the island’s folk tradition as well as expose their kids to their cultural heritage. These stages will feature oral presentations, limbo dancers, a live steel band and the world-famous, award-winning Blue Glades Mento Band.
Contestants in the Jerk Cook-off will find the competition more attractive in bigger prize money as the winnings have been significantly increased. The first place purse has tripled to $1500 (previously $500). Second Prize has doubled to now $500 (previously $250) and the Third Prize has more than doubled to $250 (previously $100).
Introduction of Cricket and Netball competitions are also new for 2007. The South Florida Cricket Alliance is scheduled to hold a 20-20 match between two pre-selected teams which will include former West Indian cricket stars. A netball tournament will also feature star netball players from the region.
Top entertainment is, of course, de rigueur, featuring the crowd-rousing headliner Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, with their electrifying musical repertoire. Popular Barbadian singer Allison Hinds will also set the place ablaze with her hot brand of soca, while local Jazz musician Eugene Grey will fire things up on the main stage with a selection of Caribbean Jazz. Other acts are still being contracted for the event and will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.
Advance tickets to the festival cost $7 and will go on sale early August online at www.jerkfestival.com or at selected Caribbean outlets. Tickets will increase to $12 on the day of the festival. The festival is sponsored by Grace Foods, Bahama Breeze, County Line Chiropractic Centers, People’s Telecom, Impark, Hot 105, WEDR, WAVS, Red Stripe Beer, Guinness and CN Weekly Newspaper. For more information, contact Jamaica Awareness, Inc (305) 405-2712 or Riddims Marketing, Inc. at (305) 891-1242.