Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival served it up

8/1/2013, 11:06 a.m.

The culturally rich and gastronomically delightful third annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, N.Y., brought out a diverse group of some 15,000 patrons—from seniors to babies and everyone in between—for a cultural and culinary feast that left them thoroughly satisfied. From the time when the gates opened at noon until closing time at 8 p.m., patrons feasted and enjoyed a variety of entertainment offerings.

The line to enter the park stretched for blocks as some patrons waited for over an hour to gain entry into the festival. But once in, they roamed the grounds and ate various jerk offerings from food vendors and enjoyed the many activities that the festival offered, such as the Braata Folks Singers.

There was folk singing, dancehall aerobics and drumming. The kids kept busy in the Kidz Zone, which featured rock climbing, face painting, bounce houses and a pirate show.

In the heated Celebrity Jerk Cook-Off, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio out-jerked “Cool Runnings” star Leon. Sukanya Jerk Hut was named “Best Jerk Chicken” and walked away with the coveted Dutch Pot and $500 in cash. The silver Dutch Pot and $200 went to Boston Jerk City Restaurant, while Porty Jerk Flavors came in at third to win the bronze and $100. Popular Grace Foods’ Chef Maize Miller engaged patrons in the Jerk Cook-Off Pavilion and offered cooking tips and samples as she wowed with her culinary prowess. Chef Brian Lumley also displayed his culinary skills in preparing a tasty jerk shrimp pasta dish that was gobbled up by foodies in the packed Jerk Cook-Off Pavilion.

The main stage delivered a musical feast for every palate, climaxing with a sizzling concert featuring the Fab 5, who served up old favorites like “Shaving Cream,” “Jamaican Woman,” “Wild Gilbert” and others.

Other strong performances came from rising star Christopher Martin, who charmed fans with a litany of reggae hits including “Chill Spot,” “Cheaters Prayer” and “Mi Friend Dem,” while Shaggy had the entire park singing along to “Bombastic,” “Angel,” “It Wasn’t Me” and “In the Summertime.”

Surprise guests included Maxi Priest, Oliver Samuels and Gyptian, who was presented with a gold plaque for his hit “Hold You,” which was recently certified gold for selling over 500,000 copies.

The third annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival was sponsored by Digicel, VP Records, Western Union, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Tower Isle Frozen Foods, Fly Jamaica, Bigga Sodas, the Amsterdam News, Irie Jam Media, Street Hype and VitaMalt. The event was produced by Jamaican Jerk Festival USA and VP Records.