The annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival presented in association with Publix will be staged at a new venue on Sunday, November 10th. The announcement was made on Wednesday, June 26th at a media reception held at the Miramar Amphitheater. Festival organizers unveiled plans for this year’s event to a group consisting of elected officials, corporate executives, community influencers and festival supporters, who were treated to an evening of culinary delights, music, and networking. The evening was topped with a performance from reggae performer Dre Island.
“After 14 years at Markham Park, we have decided to take the festival to the City of Miramar at the Miramar Regional Park,” stated Eddy Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, Inc., organizers of the event. “We are always looking to improve on the patron experience and enhance the quality of the event and this new venue offers an opportunity to create a new, refreshed and superior experience as well as strengthen the financial viability of the festival, while enhancing quality,” Edwards stated.
Miramar Mayor, Wayne Messam expressed his pleasure in having such a signature event coming to the City and pledged full support. Commissioner Maxwell Chambers also voiced his support and indicated his willingness to work with the organizers to host this acclaimed South Florida event in the City of Miramar.
“This is really an excellent venue,” stated Derrick Reckord, President and CEO of GraceKennedy Foods, USA. “Grace is committed to supporting the Jerk Festival and we look forward to a very successful staging in November.” Consul General Oliver Mair also spoke on the need for the Jamaican Diaspora to support the business and culture of their homeland and expressed his pride on the strong attendance from the Southeastern USA at the recent Diaspora Conference in Jamaica.
Founded in 2001, the Jamaican Jerk Festival was first held at C. B. Smith Park until it was relocated to Markham Park in 2005 due to the massive attendance. Although the first few years at Markham Park presented challenges with parking and other logistical nightmares, over time, with support from the Sunrise Police and Park administrators, organizers were able to overcome many of those challenges. According to Edwards, the organizers have spent a lot of resources on setting up Markham Park for this signature family event, which attracts patrons from all nations who come to enjoy the Caribbean experience. As the excitement, anticipation, and crowds grew, we had to explore other options and the Miramar Regional Park emerged as a viable venue.
Jerk Festival fans are assured that the quality of the festival will be better, as organizers will move to heighten the patron experience and create exciting and innovative interactions like never before. The canopy of the Amphitheater provides protection from the elements. An expanded area will include familiar features such as the Publix Culinary Pavilion, the Grace Village as well as the Kidz Zone. Food and novelty vendors will be strategically placed, to create better opportunities for sales.
Festival organizers will honor the memory of Todd Tongen, three-time winner of the Quick-Fire Celebrity Chef contest, by permanently naming the trophy the Todd Tongen Celebrity Quick-Fire trophy. There was also the unveiling of the festival’s new logo design which will begin to be used on all marketing materials for the 2019 festival.
Main stage entertainment will be a mix of cultural and popular performances featuring top DJs as well as comedians and MCs interacting with the audience creating a fun festival vibe appealing to a broader audience of South Floridians who can appreciate the culture, music, cuisine, and the Caribbean energy. The goal of the organizers is to improve quality as they expand the festival into a multi-day event over the next few years.
The 18th 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, Guinness, The Jamaica Tourist Board, Greater Ft. Lauderdale Visitors & Conventions Bureau, Countyline Chiropractic Centers, the National Weekly, WAVS 1170, WZOP and HOT105.