A section of the audience at Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival. (Photos: Jonathan Holgate)
Selectors Richard “Richie D” Martin and Jazzy T of Renaissance Disco provided musical thrills on the main stage prior to the performances by the main acts, as well as during band changes, at Sunday’s staging of the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, which was held at the Miramar Regional Park, Miramar.
The selectors took patrons on a journey back in time unleashing soca, mento, ska, reggae and dancehall treats, which found favour with patrons who sang along while dancing up a storm inside the venue.
Ding Dong and his Ravers Clavers crew took the young and not so young on a dancing mission as Stir Fry, Happiness, Good Ting Dem, and Fling, all connected.
Ding Dong later went into the crowd and fans drew closer while capturing the moment on their cellphone cameras.
Recent Grammy nominee Collie Buddz received a warm welcome from the crowd. The Bermudan reggae artiste reeled out Blind to You, the pro-marijuana anthem Come Around, the soca-infused Mamacita, and the mellow She Gives Me Love, which patrons appreciated.
Alison Higgins and her daughter Sydney McLean have a blast at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in Florida.
Morgan Heritage brought the curtains down on a day of fun, with a rousing set that comprised hit songs that patrons revelled in with delight.
Group member Peter Morgan sang brightly on She’s Still Loving Me, Your Best Friend and Tell Me How Come, while Gramps Morgan sparkled on Psalm 23.
As the night wore on and a cool breeze engulfed the venue, patrons huddled and rocked to the group’s repertoire, while taking on choir-like duties on Reggae Bring Back Love, A Man is Still a Man, and Down by the River.
NBC6 weekend anchor Cherney Amahara came back to defend her title in the Publix Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge.
Reggae artiste Collie Buddz listens as members of the audience react to his chart-topping hit Come Around.
Amahara, who is originally from Stony Hill, Jamaica — but has resided on and off in South Florida for the past 15 years — went up against Fort Lauderdale resident and fellow journalist Alexis Frazier of ABC affiliate Local 10.
“It was so much fun participating in the cook-off, but it was nerve-wracking as well. I won back-to-back, this is my second year in a row, so I’m really excited,” said Amahara.
Both participants received a box of ingredients and were tasked to prepare a meal in 30 minutes.
“We didn’t know what we were cooking until we opened the box and inside of it was turkey, sweet potato, some vegetables. and some other things, and I just put it all together,” Amahara shared in an interview with the Jamaica Observer shortly after she was declared winner of the competition.
Morgan Heritage member Peter Morgan gets emotional during his performance of She’s Still Loving Me.
She added: “I’m a Jamaican, and we Jamaicans know how to cook. So I not only got to showcase my Jamaican culture, but I also had a great time.”
Foodwise, the event had it all as various vendors decked along the sides of the venue offering a vast amount of jerk and other dishes.
Patrons queued up waiting patiently to satisfy their taste buds.
Chef Tally’s World Famous Jerk stall, Cliff’s Restaurant, Aunt May Fish Fry, and Islanders Jerk were among the vendors who did brisk business.
Winner of the Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge NBC6 weekend news anchor Cherney Amahara
The Western Union Cultural Stage, which was hosted by Christopher “Johnny” Daley, proved to be a winner with patrons who came out early. With performances by Dancin’ Dynamites, poet Sharon Corinthian, and cultural ambassador Maxine Osbourne, among others, Jamaican culture was on display.
Patron Alison Higgins and her daughter Sydney McLean were seen having a whale of a time at the event.
“We are here having fun and this is how we bond as a family. Good vibes, great food, and good entertainment,” said Higgins.
A patron who identified himself as Peter, who travelled from Alabama to attend the event, said his ex-girlfriend is Jamaican and she introduced him to the country’s food and culture.
“My ex-girlfriend introduced me to Jamaican food and music. So whenever I see these jerk festivals being advertised, I always try to attend,” said Peter.
Co-organiser of the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival Eddy Edwards said the goal was to provide an enjoyable experience for patrons.
“Our focus this year was on the food and culinary demonstration and competitions. It was a pleasure to see all the elements come together for everyone to enjoy. Our goal is always to deliver an enjoyable experience for our guests, sponsors, as well as support our vendors,” said Edwards.
Ricardo Bryan, Grace Foods senior vice-president of sales for the United States, spoke about his company’s involvement in the festival.
“We have been at the very forefront of this and it makes sense. Grace, jerk, and the community come together and, of course, this is a festival of culture, a festival of foods, and a festival of bringing the family together. It’s a part of what we are, engaging the community, engaging our customers,” said Bryan.
He described the association between his company and the festival.
“It has been very productive and mutually beneficial. Those who we see here are those who go into the supermarkets and pick up our products. But it’s more than just picking up our products, it is us bringing lifestyle, bringing our culture to our consumers wherever they are in the world.”