‘Catherine’ in bad shape
The stage during a previous staging of Reggae Sumfest.

WITH preparation for Reggae Sumfest’s return in earnest, organisers are bemoaning the dilapidated state of the Catherine Hall facility in Montego Bay, St James.

Reggae Sumfest is slated for July 20 to 25. The event culminates with a live concert on the final two days.

“After two years of lockdown and absolutely no activities, the Catherine Hall property was, understandably, considerably overgrown with bushes, small trees and a variety of vegetation. It was overrun with animals and rodents” Josef Bogdanovich, principal of DownSounds Records — producers of Reggae Sumfest, told the Jamaica Observer.

“The grounds required a complete overhaul. The preparation entails the clearing of the property, which required the use of equipment such as backhoes to remove the vegetation and debris that had piled up over the two years. There has also been some work to repair some of the physical structures that were there on the grounds given that they had face a number of issues to include termite infestation and some of the electrical lines had to be cleared of vines,” he continued, adding that the animals found on the premises have been safely removed.

Bogdanovich was unwilling to say how much money he had spent so far, or how much the restoration work would cost.

“It costs roughly the same as to build six Olympic-size swimming pools,” was all he was willing to say.

For two years, Jamaica entertainment sector had been shuttered due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the challenge, Bogdanovich divulged there will be some improvements to the facility which would improve the experience for the 15,000 patrons that are expected.

“One area of improvement will be the entrance. As soon as the patrons enter the venue, they will see a remarkable change which will set the stage for a once in a lifetime experience at the festival. From the entrance at the gate to the check-in lanes, service personnel to assist with questions and directions, all changes designed to ensure a smooth and seamless entry” he explained.

“Our food court area has been extended to three food courts; the main one being the Grace Food Court and then two smaller food courts at the top of the left and right of the venue. This change will allow a more efficient flow for patrons” he added.

A new feature that some customers will enjoy will be the ability to choose where they sit in some special areas.

“Once again, we will have two Ultra VIP platforms which, for the first time will offer reserve seating. Patrons now have the ability to select their preferred seat and pay in advance online” he explained.

Overall he notes that preparations for the overall event have been going well.

“Overall, our plans are moving ahead at a good pace” he added.

Heavy-duty equipment at the Catherine Hall facility in Montego Bay, St James.

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