(From left) Howard McIntosh, chairman, Entertainment Advisory Board, receives a gift package on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport from Andrew Ellis, CEO, Supreme Team Limited, at the media launch of VaCae Weekend. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

American rapper Rick Ross will headline VaCae Weekend scheduled to run April 7-10, at several venues within the environs of Ocho Rios, St Ann.

The news was announced at the event's media launch on Wednesday, March 22, at the Volkswagen Jamaica showroom on Old Hope Road.

"It was super important for VaCae Weekend to bring talent of the stature of Rick Ross to Jamaica. The island has been missing live entertainment for two and half years; we were locked down with COVID-19. It's coming back. We're lucky that our fellow festivals are coming back as well. We want to make sure that our audience get and international superstar that they've watched us deliver to the foreign audience, so it's important for us to deliver it at home as well," said Andrew Ellis, CEO, Supreme Team Limited, organisers of VaCae Weekend.

Ross will bookend the VaCae Weekend, performing on Sunday, April 9, at the Sandz Caribbean Music Festival. He will be a part of the cadre of artistes appearing over the four-day of events including, Beenie Man, Gyptian, Moyann, Munga Honorable, and Stalk Ashley.

Andrew Ellis, CEO, Supreme Team Limited, organisers of VaCae Weekend, pauses for some lens time with Jhanelle Wagstaff, senior sales manager, Volkswagen Jamaica, and Sean Wallace, head of commerce, Red Stripe Jamaica, at the media launch of VaCae Weekend held on March 22 at the VW Jamaica showroom, Old Hope Road.Naphtali Junior

Dubbed the People's Weekend, VaCae Weekend will feature seven events, starting with the The Lawn, and Pan Di Plaza on April 7.

April 8 hosts Aquaholix Water Fete, and brand new to the line-up Strickly2k.

Sunday, April 9 sees Sandz Caribbean Music Festival and Ovah Suh.

The Estate Jamaica brings the event to a close on Monday, April 10.

VaCae Weekend, itself returns for its second staging after being previously cancelled due to the pandemic, an event of significant impact to the event as a large majority of its ticket buyers are from overseas. From its first staging in 2019, 70 per cent of season band purchasers were from overseas patrons, while in 2020, 88 per cent of online ticket sales were international.

Ellis explained this was all by design, as his team had been operating in several major diaspora markets to generate the brand awareness and trust, which eventually coalesced into the first VaCae Weekend in 2019.

"What we've been able to do is build support bases in a lot of diaspora markets. In 2017 we started to conceptualise the idea of VaCae by doing Easter weekend with Sandz in Ocho Rios. We looked at it and said that there were a lot of people from overseas for it. One of our missions always was to build more value for the patrons. If they're coming into Jamaica, we want to give them more. We want them to experience more entertainment."

He addressed the issue of going head-to-head with what is traditionally a dominant period for Carnival.

"We appreciate and understand that Carnival happens right after Easter weekend, but the reality about it is that it's a better opportunity for Jamaica because overseas patrons can now spend two weeks in Jamaica, instead of one week. So you find that Jamaica benefits more when we encourage visitors to come in and enjoy what a Jamaican holiday feels like and then enjoy the festivities of the traditional Carnival. So it's not one against the other, it's great look overall for the industry," said Ellis.

In this file photo, Rick Ross performs in concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated rapper is set to rock this year's VaCae weekend. (Photo: AP)
Beenie Man (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
By Rory Daley Observer writer enetertainment@jamaicaobserver.com

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