KINGSTON, Jamaica - Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival organisers will transform Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida into the centre of Jamaican culture at the highly acclaimed 11th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival slated for Sunday, November 11.
The one-day, family-friendly event celebrates Jamaica’s diverse culture and showcases it to the over 18,000 patrons including visitors from the Caribbean
This year the Western Union and Digicel cultural stages will present staples starting from traditional song and dance, spicing it up with a modern twist.
There will be drama, music, dance and "loads of fun" on the Western Union Cultural Stage, says coordinator Bridget Edwards.
She adds that the aim this year is to take patrons on a cultural journey highlighting different aspects of Jamaica’s heritage,
“The Western Union Cultural Stage presentations will centre on a skit that attempts to take patrons though hundreds of years of culture, showcasing dances from the Arieto, an Arawak dance, to Dancehall.”
Several groups will be performing these dances in celebration of Jamaica’s 50th independence anniversary.
The plot involves two neighbours (one who is very Afro-centric and the other Euro-centric) acting as narrators.
Edwards says that at the end they both will come to consensus around the cultural powerhouse that is Jamaica.
“During this skit, they will talk about Jamaica’s 50th, Grace's 90th, Marcus Garvey's 120th and Jerk Fest's 11th [anniversaries],” she says noting that the festival is highlighting these achievements at this year’s staging.
The Carimer Kids, from the Carimer Theater Group will bring to life the Arieto, to represent Jamaica’s first people -the Arawaks.
The Jam Indians (Jamaicans of Indian heritage living in South Florida) will perform belly dancing to represent the Lebanese, Syrians and East Indians of Jamaica.
Jamaica’s National heroes will also be included. Actors and performers on the Western Union Stage will bring to life the heroes with special recognition for the sole female, Nanny.
In addition to performers in the skit, Narda Malcolm, Miss St James Festival Queen 2005, is slated to perform a high octane cultural performance, highlighting dances such as Ska and Rocksteady.
A popular dance group from New York is down to bring the Dancehall moves showcasing dances such as the Bogle and Butterfly, the Willy Bounce and perhaps the Wounded Dog.
Meanwhile, on Digicel’s Cultural Stage a fine-art approach will be taken. Pulling inspiration from the group, 100,000 poets for change, the festival will bring their “100,000 artists – poets, singers, painters – for change.”
The group, including poet Damali, plans impromptu walk through the park, stopping at intervals to break into poetry and other performances bringing the popular Street Dub Vibe element.
Members of the Boyd Anderson High School Poetry Club will also perform on this stage.
Photographer David I. Muir and poet Sonia Morgan are eager to talk about their highly-acclaimed book of photography –‘Pieces of Jamaica: The Real Rock Edition’ which was unveiled September 14 at the Sheraton Suites, Plantation, Florida.
The book is set for the Jamaica launch on Wednesday November 7, at Devon House in Kingston.
"We like to use the term “edutainment”, because we want to educate while we entertain,” says Edwards.
She contends that there are many Jamaicans, even older ones, who have no idea about some of the cultural songs and dances and that it is incumbent upon the festival to showcase these important traditions. “There won’t be a dull moment on the cultural stages,’ says Edwards who adds that the calibre of performances will grab people’s attention as they become immersed in the cultural richness of Jamaica.
The Festival is presented by Publix and Digicel, with additional support from Western Union, The Jamaica Tourist Board, WAVS Radio, Hot 105, Red Stripe, Bigga Sodas and VitaMalt. The event is produced by Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, Inc, in association with Jamaica Awareness Inc.