With promises of a bigger and better festival, last Sunday, the 8th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival delivered! The unmistakable aroma of authentic Jamaican jerk permeated the air at Markham Park in Sunrise to herald the event, dubbed the biggest Caribbean Food Festival in the USA.
Vendors of food and fashion, as well as corporate entities, displayed their wares along the strip, which was lengthened to accommodate the anticipated crowd. Over 18,000 patrons, from 10 a.m. until Soca Queen Alison Hinds closed the show at about 10 p.m., had jerk foods galore – with everything from jerk chicken and jerk lobster to jerk ice-cream and jerk peanut butter – and activities to keep them entertained
From deft stilt walkers, cultural performers and comedians to sporting events, jerk cook-off competition and children’s activities, the event was perfect for the family.
The famous Publix Jerk Cook-off competition had eight contestants vying for the coveted Dutch Pot Trophy. Robert Wong came out on top with his jerk oxtail, while Ainsworth Spence and Eaton Owen claimed second and third place, respectively.
Music icon, Ken Boothe, who performed some of his greatest hits, kept the audience engaged as he worked up a sweat on stage. The audience rocked and grooved to his smooth sounds that never disappoint.
As usual, Byron Lee’s Dragonaires tore up the stage with their high octane performance of some of the greatest hits from various artists spanning generations. This band is legendary, not only for its longevity, but for its propensity to put everything into its performance. The band acknowledged the late great Byron ‘The Dragon’ Lee, ensuring that his legacy lives on.
Hinds, the final act, clad in a sparking lime green ensemble, delivered the Carnival experience for the thousands who gathered to watch the show. Though by no means her best show, Hinds managed to engage the audience and kept them moving most of the time. She gave them a taste of her new music and older tunes like Faluma Ding, Iron Bazodee and Carnival Baby. Her signature mainstream hit Roll It Gal, hit the spot toward the end of the show, as the crowd rolled with her.
The festival delivered a fantastic day of food, fun, family and frolicking – something that has become synonymous with the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival.