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The move to a new venue for the 18th Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival proved a good one for organisers. Held at Miramar Regional Park in South Florida last Sunday, it attracted a large turnout.

With sunny skies and cool temperatures, patrons feasted on a variety of jerk dishes, supported craft vendors and soaked up the live entertainment.

“We were confident that the venue would accommodate the event, and that there would be some first-time challenges, which we had, but overall everything worked as we envisioned,” explained promoter Eddy Edwards.

He continued, “Based on feedback, we have been getting positive reviews, and there are areas which we will work on to improve the patron experience. Now that we have a better understanding of the venue, we will definitely add some additional features. Overall, we did well.”

The Western Union Cultural Stage lit up with electrifying performances from up-and-coming as well as established acts who presented diverse cultural treats including traditional dance and poetry. A fashion show, which displayed designs from Ghana and the Jamaican Bandana, was well-received.

The Miss Lou Drop Some Lyrics Poetry Contest was a hit. Eight persons competed, with Sharon Corinthian and Sista Moy tied for first. Second place went to Keisha Kay Edwards, while Collie Blake aka Lady B came third.

Corinthian performed Cradle of Joy, a poem she wrote 30 years ago.

“It was an amazing experience because the poem that I performed, it's about me. I wanted a way in which I could recapture my childhood days. I left Jamaica when I was eight and for me to win this contest, it's just the best thing for me,” Corinthian told the Jamaica Observer.

Sista Moy's poem, A Strong Woman, was well-received by the audience.

“I like to write original songs and I believe in strong people and strong messages. I'm happy to be representing for Miss Lou,” said Sista Moy.

It was the first time at Jerk Fest for Trinidadian Adrian Moxley.

“I support anything Caribbean. Thank you Jamaica for having this event,” he said.

His wife, who is African-American, chimed in: “My husband brought me here and I really like the food from the islands, the music and the people,” she said.

Paul Smith, who is originally from Clarendon, said he came to the event based on feedback from friends.

“I heard that it's really exciting so I came to give it a try. And so far, it has been great.”

The Grace Patty Eating Competition was another big hit with patrons. Miramar resident Abraham Figueroa was the winner.

Singer Ed Robinson kicked off performances on the main stage with covers of John Holt's Stick by Me while Bugle did a nice set riddled with hits like Rasta Party.

Veteran band Third World rocked the mostly mature audience with their string of hits including Try Jah Love, Committed, Sense of Purpose and Forbidden Love.

Christopher Martin closed the show at just after 10:00 pm.

“This event is a big deal. It's always a pleasure to do this show, because this is good, wholesome family kinda vibe. It was also the right time for South Florida to see me again,” said Martin.

Big Deal, Take My Love, Love Me Later and Mama comprised his entertaining set. South Florida-based deejay Honorebel, singer Jaz Elise and singjay Elly B also performed. Sound system Renaissance Disco with Delano and Jazzy T created a frenzy as fans danced up a storm to soca, 1990s dancehall and hip hop.

Mayor of Miramar, Wayne Messam, whose parents are Jamaican, beat Third World member Stephen “Cat” Coore in the Publix Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge Cook-off.

South Florida media personality Julie Guy won the Todd Tongen Quick Fire Challenge cook-off over news anchor Terrell Forney.

The original article can be found here

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