Simply Red goes for $10m - 25th staging on September 26
With the objective of raising $10 million, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica is hoping for a successful 2014 staging of the annual Simply Red Wine and Food Festival in September. It takes place on Friday, September 26, on the Lawns of Jamaica House, with Prime Minister The Most Hon Portia Simpson-Miller the distinguished patron.
Speaking with The Gleaner during Tuesday evening's launch of the event at the residence of the Chilean ambassador in Millsborough, St Andrew, Yasmine Salmon-Russell, fund development and communications manager at the Heart Foundation, said she believes the target is achievable.
"I am extremely confident that this year we will be able to sell 3,000 tickets for the event, because our media sponsors have been very strong and supportive," she said, noting that the money will go towards the building fund for the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Research Centre.
"I really must commend the sponsors. There are years when people say we are backing out this year, but other people pick it up and two or three years later they will come back. The sponsors are really good to us and we appreciate that," Salmon-Russell said.
With the festival now in its 25th year, Salmon-Russell says the event has grown tremendously.
"We started with just 50 persons, doing wine and cheese. Then it changed to wine and pasta, food and cheese, all sorts of things. In 2012, we realised that we needed to rebrand, so we rebranded it, we moved to Jamaica House and we were able to get the private sector in on it, and it is now a signature event. We now have like 3,000 persons," she said.
The theme for this year's staging is Celebrating Flavour, Flair and Fashion. There will be three international chefs and 60 display booths with wines and different foods. There will also be guest mixologists and a cook-off between local and celebrity chefs.
Guests at the launch got a taste of what is likely to take place at Simply Red next month. There were several red and white decorated booths offering a wide range of wines, food and dessert to occupy patrons during the two-hour wait for the official proceedings to begin. The children at the Young Chefs booth were impressive, as they chopped ingredients for their tasty quesadillas and black bean salsa.
When the launch did begin at 8 p.m. there was opera singing from Maria Cecilia Toledo De Schmillen, who was accompanied by Steven Woodham on violin. Towards the end of the launch, DiMario McDowell also sang a few songs.
Fashion ambassador for the event Keneea Linton-George, Francois St Juste, Thalia Lyn and Laura Butler praised the annual festival. In addition to congratulating the organisers on staging Simply Red, Minister of Health Fenton Ferguson encouraged persons to support the foundation's work.
"Support for the Heart Foundation is support for life; it is the support of good heart health," he said.
And with 70 per cent of deaths in Jamaica caused by non-communicable diseases, Ferguson said, "That is why the work of the Heart Foundation should be lauded in a real way."
Photos by Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer