LAUDERDALE LAKES – Lauderdale Lakes was the place to be on the weekend of May 17th to May 19th as the annual UNIFEST Caribbean multi-cultural festival celebrated 25 years of bridging cultures.
The City of Lauderdale Lakes in partnership with the Greater Caribbean-American Cultural Coalition and the Greater Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce hosted the 3-day Silver Anniversary celebration, a major milestone for this signature event. Prior to the anniversary celebration, UNIFEST was named “Best Multi-Cultural Program” for its contribution to Florida’s tourism industry by the 2019 Synergy Summit for Cultural Heritage and Tourism.
A family affair
The weekend line up was indeed a family affair packed with activities for the young and old alike. Kicking off was Friday’s engaging and informative Motivational Workshop with local teens followed by a networking Business Mixers. Lastly, the amazing 2019 Teen Sensation Live Talent Competition was a blast where the winner, 17-year old Dillard Performing Arts student ‘Andrew Robichaud’, rendition of “Crying” by Roy Orbison, left the audience breathless.
“Circle of Life”
Saturday saw the UNIFEST CannUrban “Circle of Life” Agricultural Symposium for those interested in becoming a “Cannpreneur.” The program included a review of Florida Hemp Legislation as well as a forum on Cannabinoid Medicine. Other topics included Urban Farming, Organic Farming and Community Gardens. Sports was also a highlight of Saturday’s activities with the Youth Netball program and the annual UNIFEST-CASA Hazelle Rogers Challenge Soccer Games hosted by the Caribbean American Soccer Association at the Lauderhill Sports Complex.
The Main Event
On Sunday, beautiful sunny skies set the stage for the much anticipated UNIFEST main event! The rich aroma of island food and music filled the air as early entrants sought to secure a front row spot in the park. Vendors displaying their products and services and the Kid Zone loaded with lots of kid-sized fun, all helped to set the stage for what was to emerge as UNIFEST 25’s main event as it got underway!
The festivities began with a colorful carnival style parade led by Grand Marshalls: Lauderdale Lakes’ elected officials, followed by female Caribbean American elected officials, and female members of the Caribbean Consular Corp. Other participants included children bearing flags representing their various countries, marching bands: Boyd Anderson High School Band, the visiting Portmore Marching Band from Jamaica, the Eliatha B. Base and the Southeastern Conference of SDA Drum Core. The parade ended with the captivating battle of the bands which was won by the Eliatha B. Base Marching Band. At the official opening ceremony, Mayor Hazelle Rogers announced the winner of “the Caribbean American Heritage Month Youth Essay Competition sponsored by the Florida Lottery. The 1st place prize went to Ananda York (of Jamaican descent) and 2nd place prize went to Frederline Jean-Phillippe (Haitian born).
Concert Under the Stars
The excitement was contagious as “UNIFEST Concert Under the Stars” got underway! Opening the main stage with a dynamic showcase was the 2019 Teen Sensation Live winner, “Andrew Robichaurd” and the 2017 winner “Hallie Rae Dougall” who both delivered like a pro. The ALL STAR UNIFEST 25 Main Stage line-up included, recording artist, Hezron, who has become increasingly vocal about the increase in the number of abuse and discrimination cases faced by adolescent girls in Jamaica, sang his Young Girl, produced by Zimma Entertainment. The track speaks to the everyday struggles of young girls. He was joined by Agent Sasco (AKA Assassin), Grammy Nominated Reggae Artist, Etana, Culture featuring Kenyatta Hill, who was given the Key to the City by Mayor Rogers, Mikey Spice, Soca Artist Leon Coldero and the Code 868 Band, Stichiz of 103.5 The Beat, and The Code Red Band! UNIFEST 25 was sponsored in-part by Yellow Cab, Premier sponsor, Countyline Chiropractic Centers, Florida Power & Light and Florida Medical Center.
“UNIFEST 25 was indeed a beautiful weekend celebrating our 25 year-milestone,” said Mayor Hazelle Rogers. “The uniqueness and cultural diversity of the community was on display for the entire 3-days.”