Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Food, music and love - Bartlett identifies three words most associated with Jamaica

Published:Monday | August 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism.
Minister of Culture, Entertainment, Gender and Sport Olivia 'Babsy' Grange.
Sizzla performs at the 2015 Port Royal Seafood Festival.
New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio (left), Chef Irie (centre) and Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival New York at the Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York, in 2015.
The smoking area sign at the Herb Curb are of Rebel Salute 2016, Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann.
A section of the audience at Dancehall Night of Reggae Sumfest 2016 in Montego Bay, St James.

Speaking at last Tuesday's launch of the first annual One World Ska & Rocksteady Music Festival, Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett asked the audience to guess the words most associated with Jamaica on social media.

Reggae and ganja were among the responses from those gathered at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, but no one hit the nail on the head, so the quizmaster gave the answer after the flurry of answers abated. In order of popularity, he named food, music and love. "So, Jamaica is an island with good food, lots of music and wonderful love," Bartlett summed up.

The combination makes for more than light interaction between speaker and audience, as it gives an idea of what it will take to get visitors into the country. Bartlett got to the words through a virtual space, checking on what the 2.1 billion people who use social media say most about Jamaica.

Within this context, he invited ideas for sustainable festivals and programmes that the Ministry of Tourism can market.

Among the well-known food festivals in Jamaica are the Portland Jerk Festival, the Little Ochie Seafood Festival and the Port Royal Seafood Festival. The first two are summer events, as the Portland Jerk Festival is normally held about early July at the Folly Oval in Port Antonio. The Little Ochie Seafood Festival in Alligator Pond, Manchester, is held shortly after. The Port Royal Seafood Festival coincides with National Heroes Day each October and is held in the historic town at the end of the Palisadoes strip in Kingston.

In addition to the food, each of them has an entertainment component. The performers slated for this year's renewal of the Little Ochie Seafood Festival included Mr Killer, the Fab Five Band, Cocoa Tea, Gem Myers, Peter Metro, Major Mackerel, and Devin Di Dakta.

The jerk festival has made its way outside Jamaica, as the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival is a staple in Florida and New York, USA, and headed to Washington, DC, for the first time this year. Freddie McGregor, Ikaya and No-Maddz were among those slated to entertain.

Reggae Sumfest, held each July in Montego Bay, St James, and Rebel Salute at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann, in mid-January are the two noted Jamaican popular music festivals on Jamaica's north coast. With the One World Ska & Rocksteady Music Festival slated for November 26 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Kingston, a competitor analysis stated that "currently, there is no festival of this type offered anywhere in Jamaica or the Caribbean. This presents a great opportunity for One World to exploit the popularity of ska and rocksteady internationally".




At the launch, Minister of Culture, Gender, Information and Sport Olivia Grange recalled being among the children who experienced ska, with former Prime Minister Edward Seaga sharing the excitement in West Kingston. "It is really great to see we are going to have a festival in Kingston that is going to speak to the music and the evolution of the music," Grange said.

And the music component (along with some elements of the three-way combination that Bartlett spoke about) occurs on a smaller scale with much more frequency than the major festivals, Grange saying that in 2014, Jamaica hosted over 23,000 events. However, she said the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) still lists them as recreational activities.

"It is business as well. It is an entrepreneurial activity," Grange said.