THOUSANDS of patrons converged at the Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York, for the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival last Sunday.
The event — now in its fifth year — saw a variety of offerings for patrons, who feasted on Jamaican music, culture, art and craft.
Eddy Edwards of Jamaica Jerk Festival Inc USA, promoters of the event, said despite some challenges, the event was successful.
“We had a whole lot of challenges but we were able to jump each hurdle and, looking at the crowd. It’s fantastic. I am happy to see that New York has embraced us. It’s a solid event for New York,” Edwards told the Jamaica Observer.
There was something for everyone. Vendors enjoyed brisk sales as patrons filled up on jerk chicken, jerk pork, roasted corn, curried chicken, stewed chicken, fried chicken, jerk fish, bammy, festival, pastries and other popular Jamaican treats. Cane and coconut vendors also got in on the act, as patrons converged at their stalls in large numbers.
The Western Union cultural stage was a hit, so too were the celebrity cook off events which featured Miss Universe Jamaica 2014 Kaci Fennell and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Children needs were met in the Kidz Zone with various rides, bounce-about, and fun activities.
Ann Rivera, whose aunt Yvonne Walter won the Miss Jamaica title in 1966, travelled from New Jersey to attend the event. “I heard it being advertised on the radio and I decided to come. It’s a really nice event and I am here with some of my family members. The food is great and the vibes is awesome,” Rivera told the Jamaica Observer.
She also won the Fly Jamaica gate prize of a free trip to Jamaica.
Barrington Burgess — who was biting into a piece of jerk chicken with his wife and baby boy — said the event lived up to his expectations.
“I usually come each year, but this is my first time in about two years and I am having a great time. I have my family here with me and we keep running into some friends that we haven’t seen in a long time. So the jerk festival is not only an event for us to come and eat and enjoy, it’s also a meeting spot where you run into friends,” he said.
Entertainment wise on the main stage, Fab Five band worked up a sweat with a medley of popular Jamaican hits from soca to reggae to dancehall. Their performance of OMI’s current Billboard number one hit Cheerleader went down well.
Carlene Davis performed selections from her recently released album Dripping Blood. Romain Virgo held his audience with System, Stay with Me, I Know Better and Soul Provider.
Dancehall artiste Cham ran unchecked unearthing hits one after the other. His hat-trick of Vitamin S, Wine, Tun Up and Ghetto Story got the crowd riled up.
“This is an event for the family and anything to do with family; Cham will be a part of it,” Cham told the Jamaica Observer shortly after his performance.