Carson “Eddy” Edwards, president/CEO of Jamaica Jerk Festival USA, promoter of the annual popular Grace Jamaica Jerk Festival in South Florida, New York and Washington DC, and Riddims marketing, was one of three Jamaicans awarded by the American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) at its annual charity gala last Saturday night.
Also honored at the evet held at the JW Marriot Marquis in Miami, were Edwards’ compatriots Diana Stewart, chairman of Stewarts Auto Group, one of the largest auto dealers in Jamaica and the Caribbean; and Felecia Hatcher, the Jamaican co-founder of Black Tech Week, which brings together black IT experts, and Code Fever Miami.
Stewart was awarded with the 2018 International Humanitarian Peacock Award, while Edwards and Hatcher were awarded with the Lignum Vitae Vanguard Award for their service to community.
Promoting Jamaican culture since 1982
Edwards has been promoting Jamaica culture, including music, drama and cuisine since 1982. For Jamaicans who migrated to South Florida in the early 1980s their nostalgia for the country they left behind was eased when they tuned in to 1080AM on weekday mornings to listen to the Jamaican accent of Edwards and his co-host Ron Burke offering Jamaican news and music.
Speaking to CNW, Edwards said “Motivated by the love for my homeland and its rich and unique culture I saw great opportunity to bring this culture to the growing Jamaican community in South Florida.” This motivation led him to co-found the cultural promotion company Jamaica Awareness, initially to promote Jamaica’s annual independence celebration in South Florida, which produced several cultural events including the former annual reggae showcase, Miami Reggae Festival. and brought several Jamaican theatrical production plays to South Florida.
Stinger Lounge and Jamaica Jerk Festival
In 1986 Edwards, Burke and other associates brought enticed club-goers in South Florida when they promoted Friday evening happy hours, Thursday night oldies sessions, and other party events at the former Stingers Lounge in Miramar. But, Edwards, regard his crowning achievement as the initiation of the Jamaican Jerk Festival in 2001. Sponsored by Grace Jamaica and promoted as the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival the event held in November annually is one of the top events on South Florida’s cultural calendar. The popularity of the Festival has taken it to New York, and Washington DC where it has been an annual event since 2011 and 2016 respectively.
Through the marketing company Riddims Marketing, Edwards and his wife Bridgette regularly promotes South Florida businesses, and the political campaign of several candidates seeking political office in the region.
With all his community efforts Edwards has maintained his affinity for broadcasting, and currently hosts a popular Saturday afternoon program on 880AM.
Humbled and honored
On his recent award, Edwards said, “I am humbled and honored for being recognized recognition for my community contributions y over the years. I also congratulate the other awardees, and particularly commend the AFJ for the work it continues to do to assist the less fortunate throughout Jamaica.”
Profile of AFJ
The American Friends of Jamaica was established in 1982 by a group of Jamaicans and Americans including former US Ambassador to Jamaica Loren Lawrence, its first chairman. Its initial and continued mission was/is to assist Jamaican charities in the areas of education, healthcare and, human and economic development.
Over the years, the organization’s membership and role has grown. Its directors have included several other former US ambassadors to Jamaica including Sue M. Cobb, also a former Florida Secretary of State, and Brenda Johnson, Both former ambassadors served as presidents of AFJ.
The organizations annual charity gala serves as its primary fundraising event. Last year the AFJ raised some US$600,000 to assist Jamaican charities. As is done each year, following its gala event, AFJ lead by its president Wendy Hart, traveled to Jamaica to donate discretionary grants to over 80 charities. The grants ceremony held at the US Embassy I Kingston was hosted by the current US Ambassador to Jamaica Luis G. Moreno.