Sunday, July 31 saw the 10th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens. The event’s culinary experiences, cultural presentation, kids zone and festival mainstage held the attraction of all in attendance.
Highlights from the day included a visit and greeting from New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Queens Councilman from the southern district Leroy Comrey. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, State Leroy Comrie Queens Borough President, Donovan Richards, Congressman Lee Zeldin and Chef Ron Duprat. The crowd of 15,00 enjoyed a day filled with fun, great food, and entertainment for the whole family.
“We’re very pleased with the results from the event,” said Eddy Edwards, marketing director for the festival, “the turn-out was strong, the people seemed to really enjoy themselves, and the production came off without incident.” The festival which is produced locally by VP Records and Jerk Festival USA has earned the distinction of being the “Biggest Caribbean Food Festival in the USA” and is the largest Caribbean-themed event in Queens.
Debut stage performances by dancehall hitmaker Laalee, and Protoje and Lila Ike’ added to the overall vibe of excitement at the show, which also starred Nadine Sutherland doing a 90s dancehall segment that included a special appearance by Spragga Benz, and a dual performance from festival favourites Romain Virgo and Christopher Martin, dubbed “Singers in action.” DJs Platinum Kids and Sky Juice provided a musical backdrop to keep the audience rocking for more than 5 hours.
The 30 food vendors in attendance enjoyed brisk business as patrons enjoyed authentic Jamaican fare, mostly prepared on site. Queens based restaurant advocacy group Queens Together sponsored a “people’s choice award” competition for selected restaurants at the festival with T&G Flavors from Cambria Heights taking home the trophy.