One iconic Montego Bay sign at Sangster International Airport.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Montego Bay has been designated Sumfest City. Such was the declaration during the launch of the 30th anniversary of the musical festival, held with a party atmosphere here at Iberostar hotel, Wednesday night.

The DownSound Entertainment-promoted show, dubbed the greatest reggae festival on Earth, will run from July 16 to July 22.

"By virtue of the authority vested in me, as mayor of Montego Bay, the magical and the beautiful city, I now declare Montego Bay, Sumfest City," proclaimed mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Leeroy Williams.

The declaration was welcomed by, among others, Oral Heaven, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI).

Joe Bagdonovich (left) shares a thought with Robert Russell during the launch of the 30th anniversary of Reggae Sumfest at Iberostar hotel Wednesday night.

"This year we are proud that our mayor has declared Montego Bay as Sumfest City. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this iconic event, let us all come together to celebrate," Heaven said.

One of the founding fathers of Reggae Sumfest Robert Russell also welcomed Mayor Williams' declaration.

"Sumfest has been an institution in Montego Bay. I want to thank the mayor for declaring Montego Bay, Sumfest City. I think we should do a petition to change the name permanently and just call it Sumfest City, instead of Montego Bay," Russell noted.

He added that over the years the festival has provided a major boast for Montego Bay's economy.

WILLIAMS...I now declare Montego Bay, Sumfest City.

"Sumfest helps everybody in Montego Bay. We put $3 billion to $4 billion into the economy in one week and [it] stretches from the top to the bottom. Everybody [benefits] — hotels, vendors, the craft vendors, the jerk pork man, the jerk chicken vendor, the nightclubs, the restaurants, you name it. Everybody makes money at Sumfest. Sumfest is bigger than Christmas in Montego Bay," the businessman argued.

Both Heaven and Williams agreed with Russell.

"I can also say without any contradiction that Reggae Sumfest is going to help to boost the economy financially of Montego Bay. I can tell you the vendors are just calling the days of Reggae Sumfest to come close," Williams said.

"We look forward to the many many visitors who will come to Montego Bay and western Jamaica," Heaven stated.

Oral Heaven, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, addresses the Sumfest launch event.

For his part, head of DownSound Entertainment Joe Bogdanovich lauded the sponsors and team members for their contribution to the festval's success over the years.

"I am excited this year, the 30th anniversary of the greatest reggae/dancehall festival on earth. To me, it's a privilege to a part of this celebration, working with so many talented people who have contributed so much to keep this brand growing exponentially year after year," an animated Bogdanovich stated.

Tommy Lee Sparta was among several artistes spotted during Wednesday night's launch.

Among the line-up for the two final nights of live performances at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre are Minister Marion Hall, Richie Spice, Tanya Stephens, Morgan Heritage, Romain Virgo, Kabaka Pyramid, Valiant, Tommy Lee, Masicka, Chronic Law, Gyptian, Jah Vinci, and Topmann Donzlife.

BY HORACE HINES Observer writer

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