Jerk Fest sets sights of expanding Brand Jamaica across the U.S.
In honor of the city’s celebrations for Caribbean-American Heritage Month in June, the South Florida-based Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival has announced plans to launch another staging in Washington D.C. Set for June 19 in Downtown Washington, the D.C. festival will include the same signature features, from classic to inventive spins on jerk, chef and celebrity competitions, and performances from top Caribbean stars.
For the first ever DC staging of the event, the entertainment line-up includes veteran reggae star Freddie McGregor, Jamaican crooner Christopher Martin, roots sensation Ikaya, Barbados’ soca star Edwin Yearwood, the talented No-Maddz band and DC’s own Image Band, along with DJ G-Nice. In addition to music, a Cultural Stage will also showcase artistic and literary performances celebrating Caribbean folk traditions. Scheduled performers include Sounds of Culture, the Pan Lara Youth Steel Orchestra, Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers, author and playwright Judith Falloon-Reid, as well as a traditional Caribbean Carnival featuring costumed masqueraders from the 2016 DC Carnival.
The event is set to take place on Sunday June 19, Downtown, Washington on Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. between 12th and 14th streets, from noon to 9:00 p.m.
The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival also hosts editions in Sunrise, Fl, and in New York. Starting out as a combined music and food fair in 2001, the festival has ballooned into an iconic event in both regions – making it ripe for expansion, says Festival CEO Eddy Edwards.
The new expansion plan, says Edwards, was inspired by the success of the New York branch of the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, “where it has become an established summer event on that city’s cultural calendar.”
As for which other cities may get its own Jerk Festival, in addition to D.C., Festival Chairman Abdul Mushin says “the potential markets in our expansion plan include cities with high density Jamaican communities, including Houston, Los Angeles, and Connecticut.”