Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Over 15,000 persons started the Lenten season off on the theoretical right foot, indulging in seafood courtesy of the inaugural Rainforest Seafood festival, at the Catherine Hall entertainment centre in Montego Bay, on Ash Wednesday.
The most ambitious philanthropic effort undertaken by Rainforest Seafoods, the festival is being hailed a success, ensuring that the organisers will likely be able to deliver on the promise of J$5 million to the 'We Care for Cornwall' charity.
We Care, is a non-profit, charitable organisation, dedicated to remedying the dire need of the Cornwall Regional Hospital for additional manpower, basic health-care equipment and infrastructure upgrades.
Being hailed for buying into the wholesome family event were sponsors, Scotiabank, Red Stripe, Pepsi, Caribbean Broilers, National Bakery, ATL and Digicel.
Fifteen restaurant booths including Prendys, Spring Garden Cafe, Sky Beach Seafood, Scotchies, The Pelican, Fish Pot Restaurant, Pier One and the Scotiabank lionfish marine laboratory and tasting centre, were kept busy feeding the thousands.
"We did twice the business we have done at some of the three-night festivals we have had booths at," said one happy booth holder.
Fish delights showcased
In addition, the festival showcased the culinary delights of vendors from Hellshire in St Catherine, Middle Quarters in St Elizabeth, to Port Royal in Kingston.
Monies earned from the festival will be managed by the 'We Care for Cornwall Regional Hospital' initiative, which was founded in 2011 by a group of Montegonians who are driven by a mission to enrich and inspire the lives of community members.
Working with hospital professionals to identify operational weaknesses and equipment needs, the group has so far raised over US$140,000, with plans to raise an additional US$1.8 million for the urgent needs of the paediatric ward (initially), as the hospital is the only facility in western Jamaica specialising in blood transfusions for children and babies.