Sumfest stronger by the week - Patrons, title sponsor enthused about expanded festival
In 2017, Reggae Sumfest expanded its entertainment package to offer patrons a week's worth of activities. Seeking to make the festival more competitive with other major reggae festivals across the globe, the Sumfest team said the move was to show the event is more than just a stage show, that it's an experience that showcases the best the Jamaican culture has to offer.
Speaking with The Gleaner during nights one and two - Friday and Saturday - at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre, locals and tourists said the festival now has even more international appeal. Macklin McLune , 64 years old, has been attending Sumfest for a decade and says the expansion shows that the festival is not only about the music, but also the food, dance and spirit of the Jamaican people. She attended several of the events this year, including the sound clash and the all-white party, and says the overall experience can match any of the other world-renowned reggae festivals across the globe.
"I think the week of activities is a good thing because for persons like myself who would have been planning to spend the week in Montego Bay in any event, we have more activities, more events to go to. I love music, and I come mainly for the stage shows. But the other events are a bonus, and they add to the overall experience," she said. "With a week, you get to enjoy more of the culture. You see more, do more, meet more people and, although it's tiring, you have more fun."
A WHOLE EXPERIENCE
Sandra Stennett from Miami agreed. "A reggae festival in Jamaica should always be about more than just two huge shows, and with the week of activities, it is. It's a whole experience now," she said " You have the sound clash, you have beach parties, and, of course, you have the best dancehall and reggae acts towards the end to close out a great week. Reggae Sumfest in this format can compete with any Rototom or Reggae Geel," she said.
Title sponsor Red Stripe also agreed that the week-long Sumfest is a win for the culture. Reshima Kelly, assistant brand manager for Red Stripe, says there is even more room for growth now that the event spans eight days. She says her brand is here for Sumfest's development and will be supporting the festival in any and every way they can.
"There is a lot more room and length for it to become an even global platform. It gives persons an opportunity to experience the different things that we as a country have to offer through music," she said. "There is definitely more dynamism in the festival now, and Red Stripe is happy to be part of the event. We are looking forward to bigger and better things with Reggae Sumfest as the brand continues to grow."