Grace jerk fest delivers despite rain

Observer writer

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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Despite intermittent showers, the 16th staging of the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival (Florida edition) attracted a large turnout of patrons at Markham Park, Sunrise, last Sunday.

With jerk the main order of the day, patrons filled up on a variety of entertainment happenings including the Western Union Cultural Stage, the main concert stage, the fusion sound stage and the popular celebrity cook-off.

The Western Union Cultural Stage continues to excite each year, with a diverse offering of cultural presentations. During an outbreak of showers, Prophet Peter “the Solid Rock “Peart and the Soul Savers delivered an exciting and spiritual performance, which saw patrons grooving under their umbrellas.

The Fusion sound stage at the back of the venue kept the dancehall and hip hop sounds flowing as the younger generation danced to the latest music.

On the main stage, soca music veteran Leon Coldero, the entertaining Code Red Band, rocksteady captain Ken Boothe, dancehall pioneer King Yellow Man, Morgan Heritage and Tarrus Riley kept patrons energised with their slew of hits.

Haitian-born chef Alain Lemaire won the Celebrity Chef Throwdown competition after he competed with Chicago's Chef Kenny Dixon. Jamaican-born Chef Troy Tingling won the Publix Celebrity Cook-off, which saw 4 other competitors preparing appetisers, salads and entrees for a US$1,000 cash prize.

Inside the Publix Culinary Pavilion, many patrons gathered to observe food demonstrations and presentations courtesy of chefs Andre Fowles, Max Hardy and Irie.

Promoter Eddy Edwards reflected on the day's turn of events.

“Emotions are mixed, as on one hand we are pleased with the buzz of activity leading up to festival day, especially with our presenting sponsor Publix. their pre-event activations and promotions added a lot of value to our brand and generated awareness in the general market, resulting in many first-time attendees. The weather resulted in a drop of attendance and made for a challenging day, but in the end we were able to deliver an enjoyable experience for patrons. All in all, we are pleased with the feedback that we have been receiving,” said Edwards.

He also spoke about the highlight of the festival.

“The highlight of festival was the satisfaction of seeing patrons enjoy themselves and experience the many features of the festival, despite intermittent showers. Another highlight was honouring the memory of the late Ruddy Schaaffe and the presentation to his wife Joy, daughter Jodian, and his son Kohan. That was a special moment, as Ruddy was always present at the festival in his role as coordinator of the domino tournament,” he said.

Over the 16 years of its staging, the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival has grown to become one of the premier Caribbean events in South Florida as well as the USA. It has attracted sponsorship support from major brands such as Publix, one of the largest Supermarket chains in the Southeastern US as well as other US-based companies such as Sprint, Western Union and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitors and Conventions Bureau assisting with marketing the event with the goal to establish the festival as a destination event in South Florida.

Kimberley Lue Lim, Assistant Global Category Manager for Grace Foods spoke about her company's continued sponsorship of the festival.

“Grace has been associated with the festival since inception, but the company assumed its role as title sponsor in 2009. The association has been a natural fit for us. Eddy Edwards and team have done tremendous job at showcasing the best of Jamaican cuisine to South Floridians. At Grace, jerk is one of the major platforms chosen to help achieve our mission of bringing genuine Caribbean taste to the world. We are happy to support this exceptional display of Caribbean cuisine and culture,” she said.

Each year at the festival, several Grace's products and services and a wide array of food and beverage products are on display and used at its demonstration tents positioned at strategic locations around the park. One of the many executions included a Grace Patty eating competition saw a winner walking away with US$1000.




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