MONTEGO BAY, St James — AFTER a very disappointing turnout at this year's staging of the BUSTA 4-H Nyammins & Jammins Food Festival last Saturday, organisers say they will have to go back to the drawing board in an effort to attract more patrons at the event.
"Right now we have a lot to think about, but one thing is certain is that we will have to go back to the drawing board because this year it is probably the lowest turnout we have ever had," said Winston Ritchie, the chair of the St James 4-H Advisory Council, which stages the annual event.
Up to last year, the 12-year-old festival had been held on National Heroes' Day at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay.
But this year, organisers decided to stage the family event on December 15 — the start of the winter tourist season and the end of the semester for schools across the island — because the event had suffered over the last four years from the rains which the month of October often brings.
Despite the financial losses over the last five years, Ritchie made it clear this week that the St James 4-H Advisory Council will continue to stage the event.
"We will continue to have the festival, nevertheless," he emphasised.
He told the Observer West that although the turnout fell way below expectations "the show was a good one".
He cited "several other activities in the Montego Bay region last Saturday, and the lack of disposable income", as factors that negatively impacted the attendance at the festival.
Ashley Wilson, a patron who has been attending the event for several years, believes that the shifting of the event from October to December is the main contributing factor for the poor turnout.
"The fair was somewhat scanty; it did not have its usual crowd, so I believe that a lot of persons were not aware of the change of date why there has not been that great turnout, as usual," she argued.
She added however, that the activities were fun, especially for the children.
And Jasmine Reid, a vendor, who has been attending the event since its inception, told the Observer West that as far as sales were concerned, this year is the worst year for her.
"Nobody is here; it was my worst year.... it's really bad," said Reid, who sells a wide array of toys.
She, too, believes that the change of date had badly affected the event.
But in spite of the low turnout, those in attendance seemingly enjoyed the rich mix of live entertainment, culinary competitions, demonstrations, food and kids' village.
All proceeds from the BUSTA 4-H Nyammins & Jammins Food Festival go to supporting, training and the development of some 6,000 clubbites across St James, a goat-revolving programme, as well as the scholarship fund for needy but deserving clubbites.