By Durrant Pate
The organisers of the inaugural National Jamaican Jerk Day are reporting that the event was an overwhelming success.
The virtual event, streamed live on VP Records’ YouTube channel from the Miramar Amphitheater in South Florida last Sunday, October 25, saw jerk lovers from all over the globe tuning in and flooding the social media platforms to engage with the jerk festival. Viewers from Canada and as far away as Israel and Columbia added to the thousands in the United States who logged on to experience their fill of jerk cuisine, genuine Jamaican culture and live entertainment.
They were treated to some of the best acts of the Grace Jerk Festival stages over the years.
As for the food and jerk lovers, the highpoint of their day was to witness Chef Irie in his element, creating delectable jerk salmon and shrimp on the grille.
He was complemented by Chef Andre Fowles, who had a cooking demo of jerk pork chops with caramelised mangoes using Grace Jerk Seasoning. From start to finish thousands of individuals all over the world tuned in having difficulty to tune out being hooked by the engaging line-up of activities.
The day’s event started with DJ Jason Panton reeling off his catalogue of Jamaican hit songs from the legendary Toots and the Maytals to Grammy kid, Koffee. There were performances by reggae icons John Holt and Barrington Levy with an added Eastern Caribbean flavour in the form of Soca queen Alison Hinds, who graced the South Florida stage.
Jamaicans Chris Martin and Romain Virgo also performed, as well as the ‘King of the Dancehall’ Beenie Man.
Nanny of the Maroons, played by actress Maxine Osbourne, appeared intermittently throughout the production, as the organisers sought to intersperse old Jamaican history with contemporary entertainment.
Giving his overall assessment, CEO of Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, Inc., Eddy Edwards gave the event a passing grade.
“We are pleased at the positive response we have been getting to the concept and happy for the number of people who participated, understanding that this was the first,” said Edwards.
“Our goal is to grow this concept into a major celebration in the coming years.”
The live stream was the highlight of the inaugural National Jamaican Jerk Day, recognising jerk cuisine – Jamaica’s indigenous way of seasoning and grilling foods. Jamaican jerk has garnered worldwide appeal and, like reggae music, is synonymous with the island of Jamaica.
The National Jamaican Jerk Day celebration was sponsored by corporate partners Publix Supermarkets, Grace Foods, Western Union, VP Records, Digicel, The Jamaica Tourist Board, the City of Miramar, and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Conventions and Visitors Bureau. The annual jerk fests usually attract large public crowds, with the streets lined with Jamaican delicacies, but went virtual this year given the restrictions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.