Rum festival ends on high

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer
daleyr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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Valon Thorpe, director of the Jamaica Rum Festival, said the two-day event held at Hope Gardens in St Andrew will become an annual one.

The inaugural festival was held last Saturday and Sunday.

“It was a great success (based) from the feedback; it surpassed our expectations,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

According to Thorpe, organisers expected 5,000 patrons over the two days, but the figure surpassed that.

“We were sold-out both nights and had to be issuing armbands,” he explained.

Thorpe said the vision for the Jamaica Rum Festival is for it to be a calendar event.

“We always had the idea to make it annual, a destination event for Jamaica's tourism, in response to other festivals of a similar type elsewhere. Jamaican rum, especially Appleton, has a presence at many of these international festivals. The long-term plan is to invite other Caribbean rum brands here and move it out into the region, led by Jamaica,” he said.

Thorpe added that the Jamaica Rum Festival was born to keep the legacy of Jamaican rum production alive.

“The Jamaica Rum Festival was originally developed as an edutainment type of product, which determined the layout and content. What we wanted to do was provide experience, so to have patrons come and spend the whole day without it being a party was great to see,” he said.

Singer Sanchez closed the curtains on the festival.

“I love these kinds of festivals. I don't know why, but I really enjoy going to a festival where I can really work out,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Sanchez had the audience singing along to every song. From his dancehall hits and medleys of R&B and classic reggae songs, the audience was transfixed.

Things peaked when he shared the stage with surprise guest Flourgon with whom he did several hits during the 1980s.

He ended the evening on a religious note.

Sanchez was preceded by Agent Sasco who, though not feeling well, managed to keep patrons engaged with songs like Ruffest And Tuffest, Caan Lock Off Di Dance and Winning Right Now.

Jesse Royal started the late-evening entertainment package.

Aidonia, Dean Fraser, Wayne Marshall, Pluto Shervington, bass/violin player Jamaila Falka, Dance Xpressions, and Synth Orchestra comprised the entertainment package on opening day.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon, patrons enjoyed the activities which ranged from informative displays to dominoes.

Several vendors were on hand. One was three-month-old company Thr3 Sistaz which specialises in eco-friendly Jamaican handmade bags.

“As a vendor, we were awarded the opportunity to showcase our products, network with local and international businesses that operate in similar markets, but most of all, bring greater visibility to our brand. I would recommend anyone looking for a true Jamaican experience to attend and those small/start-up businesses to be part of an amazing event,” Th3 Sistaz co-director, Shavelle Mayler, said.


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