THE Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival returns, after a two-year break, on September 4, celebrated as Labour Day in the United States. It will be held at Southeast Athletic Complex in Lithonia, a suburb of the Georgia capital.
It will be the 17th staging of the event, which was first held in 2005 by Glen Simmonds, a Jamaican broadcaster/entrepreneur who lived in Atlanta for many years. Simmons died three years ago at age 55, but his wife Cheriel continues to oversee their company, Glen Simmons Events, promoters of the festival.
COVID-19 restrictions prevented the Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival from being held in 2020 and 2021. Simmons, however, credits associates and sponsors for keeping the show afloat.
"Without the support of our partners, the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Foundation and our sponsors, Grace Kennedy, JN Money, VM Group, Caribcast, 2BKaribbean, CaribTix, and others, the event would not be possible. Additionally, we thank the city of Stonecrest for welcoming the event and embracing the Caribbean culture," said Simmons.
The Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival traditionally attracts Jamaican chefs with expertise in jerked cuisine, as well as Americans from the southern states who specialise in barbecued meat.
As usual, there will be a music side to the event. This year, Freddie McGregor is the headliner, with Christopher Martin, Chino McGregor, Bling Dawg, and rapper Chubb Rock also confirmed to participate.
Glen Simmons, who was from St Ann, started the Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival when jerked food was a hot item among celebrities in the US, and in high-end restaurants.
The inaugural event was an intimate backyard gathering but it grew to be a calendar event for Atlanta's West Indian community.