DESPITE its continued success, organizers of the 15th staging Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival are intent on making it “bigger and better”.
The festival was held in Markham Park, Sunrise, Florida, on Sunday, November 13.
“You know, food crosses all barriers. Music crosses all barriers. And we can combine food and music to bring people together. That’s one of our goals to bring people together to celebrate the Jamaican heritage and culture,” Eddy Edwards told Jamaica Observer.
“However, every year we want to be bigger and better. We always want this event to be not just a Caribbean event in South Florida, but a South Florida event promoting the Caribbean,” he continued. For its recent staging, Edwards said he pulled out the stops.
“We wanted it to be special for our 15th anniversary. It’s a little higher than we normally go. We said go higher or go home. We wanted to keep the patron experience extra special,” said Edwards.
The event saw headliner Shaggy as well as Chaka Demus and Pliers, and Singing Melody. Newcomers Kristine Alicia, Zeke Don, the Code Red Band and Sons of Maestro and the deejay/singing duo J Stone and K Charlz were also on the bill.
Grace Foods has been a sponsor of the festival since 2004 and became title sponsor five years later.
Kimberley Lue Lim, assistant global category manager for Grace Foods, said the festival allows the brand the opportunity to showcase its products to consumers.
“It’s a wonderful event for us to bring together our Caribbean people. It’s really something that we allow to showcase all our great products with Grace. It’s a really good family event, so it was a no-brainer for us to come on board,” she said.
In addition to Grace Foods, American supermarket chain Publix has been a presenting sponsor since 2008. “We made several overtures to their agency and it took about three years to convince them that the festival was a natural match. Once Grace signed on as title sponsor, we were able to create a symbolic partnership between Grace Foods and Publix leveraging the power of the festival in the community,” Edwards explained.
Based 0n 2014 revenue, Publix is the 13th largest US retailer and 35 in the world. It has locations in Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Looking to next year’s event, Edwards and his team plan to make improvements in weak areas while continuing to make the customer experience a pleasant one. “Going forward, we have to see how we can keep the patron experience very pleasant. We are given the task now to make it bigger and better and improve.”
– By Kevin Jackson