Black River Day a success
Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
With many months of planning to make Black River Day 2014 an even bigger and better event than its 2013 inaugural staging, President of the St Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce Black River Chapter (the Chamber), George 'GT' Taylor, said that the aim was accomplished and that the small businesspersons in the town were the ones who made this year's celebration what it was. The event was held on the eve of Emancipation Day.
The event, which was aimed at promoting investment in the town as well as bringing a renewed focus on the town, was organised by the chamber in collaboration with the St Elizabeth Parish Council.
"We have to give thanks. It [was] a great improvement over last year in terms of turnout. This year, [there were] more activities around the town. More businesspeople in the town benefited this year.
"It is definitely a success as far as the chamber is concerned. I spoke to the mayor and he is well pleased, the residents of Black River [as well] because it's all about Black River and St Elizabeth. They are well pleased," Taylor shared.
While there were many plans for new activities to be injected into the Black River Day 2014 celebrations, some, such as the regatta, could not be realised because of a lack of funding. However, there were improvements on activities that were already in place and there was the addition of some new ones as planned.
One such aspect was the Farmers' Market, where farmers came in to sell their produce. This, Taylor said, was well supported.
"We had a Farmers' Market that was well supported. Companies came down and did branding and special promotions in the supermarkets. this is what we want to encourage. In hard times, dig deep and find initiatives that will move us forward," he relayed.
Taylor said that while the appeal was made to corporate Jamaica to support the event, their support was not enough. However, unlike last year's celebrations, the small-business operators stepped up to the plate to make the day a possibility.
"I have to lift my hat to the small businesspeople of Black River. They are the ones that made it happen this year. We reached out to corporate Jamaica, they didn't come ... one and two ... but not to make it happen. We walked the town and everybody gave what they could to make this happen. We had a budget to work with, and, up to last night (the night before the event), that was when the last contribution came in to put us in the black (balance the books)," Taylor added.
Taylor, who believes that an event such as Black River Day could possibly lead to new businesses making long-term investment in the town, said other towns should explore the idea of creating a day centred on promoting commerce and creating new investment. For Black River, Taylor went on to say that there was the added aspect of tourism potential and he appealed to the Jamaica Tourist Board to partner with them to help harness that potential.
At midnight, the town started off the Emancipation Day celebrations with a moment of silence, blowing the Abeng, reading the proclamation, and fireworks. Afterwards, there was a stage show and a street dance.