Baby Cham (152389)
Credit: Toni Dubois

Roy Wilkins Park in Queens was taken over by a proper celebration of Jamaican cuisine, culture and music Sunday, July 19, with the annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival. Thousands came out in the unrelenting heat to enjoy what is a proud expression of a delightful Caribbean experience.

“We bring the real Jamaican experience with this festival, and every single year thousands of people come out to enjoy a full day of entertainment, culture and jerk meats,” said Carson Eddy Edwards of Riddims Marketing. “We have great sponsors and support from the city and local community. We at Grace Jerk Festival and Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, extend our sincerest gratitude.”

In the Jerk Cooking Pavilion, Mayor Bill de Blasio once again competed in the Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge against Kaci Fennell, Miss Jamaica. Not everyone was convinced when the mayor was declared the winner. No problem though, as Chef Eddie G and Chef Irie kept the crowd engaged with their mouthwatering displays of creative cooking finesse.

Photos by Toni Dubois

Not a day for dieters! Leading restaurants from all over vied for hungry customers. They were all busy and the grills stayed hot. The coconut guys sliced open their fruit for the thirsty, and vendors hawked every type of Jamaican cultural pride item imaginable.

Dance hall, rockers, soca, calypso and even dub plate filled the park all day, with performances by artists such as King Jammys, Fab 5 Band, Romain Virgo and Carlene Davis. When it was learned that Sanchez had a visa issue, Baby Sham stepped in and rocked the large, delighted crowd, all the while Major Hype entertained the audience with his typical brand of humor.

Keeping the young ’uns occupied was the very busy Kidz Zone so grown folks could embrace historical and cultural gems on the popular Western Union Cultural Stage. Patrons were blessed with a cultural trip expressed in drama, music and dance.

Never ill vibes, but always ’nuff fun. Nice.

The fifth annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival New York was presented by Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, in association with VP Records. Sponsors were Grace Foods, Western Union, Continental Bakery, Vitamalt, Gleaner, Power 106, Randy’s Radio and Tower Isle Patties.