Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Inside the Main Event | Commerce, culture, history at Black River Day

Published:Friday | July 28, 2017 | 7:00 AMMel Cooke
Jabez
Nesbeth
Ninja Man
George 'GT' Taylor
A section of the crowd at Black River Day 2016.
A float going through Black River,St Elizabeth, during last year's celebrations.
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From 9 a.m. today to 2 a.m. tomorrow, the coastal town where electricity and the automobile were first introduced to Jamaica, will host its fifth annual Black River Day.

Put on by the Black River Chapter of the St Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, along with the municipal corporation, the celebration of commerce, culture and history has a pair of subtitles which positions it nationally and locally. One of them is 'five in 55', as it is the fifth staging of the celebration and coincides with Jamaica's 55th anniversary of Independence. The other is 'Jamaica's Ultimate Street Festival', as event co-organiser GT Taylor outlines a slate of free activities on the town's streets.

He told The Gleaner that the town will be "closed off to vehicular traffic for the day - no vehicular traffic, only pedestrians. It is a day dedicated to commerce and celebrating Black River".

However, there is one vehicle that will go through the town today, a train on wheels which will ferry those who wish to move through the town.

On the commercial side, businesses will be offering discounts. There will be a tent where information on Black River's history will be available. And there will be continuous cultural activity during the day, culminating with a stage show in the night where Ninja Man, Anthony Cruz and Nesbeth are among the headliners.

From the Genesis Steel band on North Street corner to the mento band in JAG Myers Park along High Street, stilt walkers stalking the streets, a food court and kiddies village, plus Ruff Cut sound system dropping the beats, the day will be filled with sighs and sounds.

At 2 p.m. there will be a gospel concert, featuring Stitchue , Jabez and Meeky Melody. With the official opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Former Mayor of Black River, Everton Fisher, is the special awardee.

"He accepted the idea of Black River Day and pushed it," Taylor said. "A lot of people say the town is dying, so once a year we highlight it."

A fashion show precedes the parish finals of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) Big Stage Competition, which runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Then it is stage show time with Ninja Man, Anthony Cruz, Style X, Grampa Entertain, Nesbeth, Real Image, I-sus Ras, Big Pop and Turbulence, up to the close of the activities.

"We have a good line-up, all for free," Taylor emphasised. "People look forward to it." And although he said "we chose to do it on a weekday" because of the thrust towards commerce, he made it clear "you really have to involve the culture."