Wed | Jun 26, 2019

Jamaica Rum Festival ends on a high

Published:Tuesday | March 12, 2019 | 12:11 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Sanchez brought the curtains down on day two of Jamaica Rum Festival.
Agent Sasco in his element.
Dance Xpressionz gives those who missed their performance on day one their money’s worth on day two.
Dancehall artiste Pamputtae sitting pretty
Julian Dixon with Gia Dahl-Obsorn enjoying day two of the Jamaica Rum Festival.
Simone Senior enjoying the best the Rum Festival had to offer.
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Day two of the Jamaica Rum Festival has earned the reputation of being a diversified portrayal of the island’s culture that not only includes a celebration of rum, food, and local musical genres, but also for its strong spirituality. For many repeat festival-goers, the space transformed from being a mini-educational rum tour on Saturday into a bazaar for art and crafts on Sunday.

Thr3 Sistaz, with their fashionable 100-per- cent handmade eco-friendly bags, Baughaus Design Studio; and Exquisite Wicker, that also featured authentic Jamaican-made creations, were a few of the standout retailers. Dwayna Mayler, one of the owners of Thr3 Sistaz, shared, “Yesterday was a bit slower in terms of the number of consumer visits and purchases. However, there were persons that returned and more individuals making purchases today.”

Mayler said that the first day teased the interest of guests – some of whom probably came to explore the tents and get a good feel of all the entities that converged to make the festival a success – to come out early and shop.

It was surprising to find a few religious individuals singing praises to the organisers notably about the music selection and line-up of entertainers; even those who gave up rum for the lenten season.

Executive director the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Dr Carey Wallace, quipped, “It may be a timely consideration to be looked at based on that (the season of lent), but an analysis would have to be done to really to see what is most feasible as tourism plays a vital role, and we also want to see how that variable has an impact on deciding what day the festival is held. It is a lot to consider.”

Wallace, who attended both days of the festival, said that he was pleased with the execution and the turnout. Though not having any previous experiences to compare to, he said, “I have been to more food festivals or festivals that have rum in the mix, but are not particularly dedicated to it (rum), and it is the kind of event that should have happened before now.”

Hidden humour

The repeat activities, such as seminars that some guests registered for from Saturday, mixology competitions, and the educational dance session by Dance Xpressionz, were blessings in disguise, especially for people who missed out on the excitement the previous day.

Dance Xpressions’ lead man, Orville Hall, put on a great show as he played the part of ‘maestro’ for the Synth Orchestra as they played renditions of Chalice’s Reggae Symphony as well as dancehall rhythms of the 21st century like the Overproof Riddim and Liquid Riddim. Hall’s dance movements matched with his use of the baton, a gesture that served as comedic relief for the audience.

Draw close

Dufton Shepherd and Sakina Deer, the emcees for the festival, joined in and had a fair share of hidden humour. Both actors-turned-hosts did an excellent job of keeping with the programme of the day and providing entertainment during the short periods when there wasn’t a performing artistes on stage. Among the artistes that performed, Ikaya, Jessie Royal and Agent Sasco did their usual and engaged persons in their sets, but the talk of the show was the closing act: Sanchez.

The One in a Million singer urged the audience to draw close to the stage as he lit up the show and the speakers with his strong vocals and captivating presence as he performed lover’s rock favourites, I Can’t Wait (You Say You Love Me), Pretty Girl, the mix of Barrington Levy’s She’s Mine and Let Me Love You Down just before inviting Flourgon to deejay a little bit from 90s hits such as; Red Dragon’s Hol’ Ah Fresh.

The headliner and his friend did not leave ‘jah’ out of the mix as the collaboration Rise To Meet Jah opened the set for gospel tracks We’ll Soon Be Done with Troubles and Trials and He Looked Beyond My Faults (Amazing Grace), closing the show with patrons’ hands raised to the sky.