Summer is here again and with it comes the rash of parties, functions and the ubiquitous outdoor events. This time the media launch is for the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, hosted by veteran promoter and radio personality, Conroy Allison, the venue was packed to the gills with media houses, PR mavens, those 'in' folks who appear at every function or event and some members of the public. Grace Foods, a partner with the Jerk Fest for the past 10 years, pulled out the big guns for this event. In attendance, Shaggy who will headline the July 21 event being staged in New York for the second successive year. Kicking off the proceedings with a joke and a prayer, the popular Rev Canon Calvin McIntyre spiritual advisor to his Church of the Good Shepherd in the Bronx gave a short and spicy benediction. Also in attendance, actor and singer Leon who takes his turn as a celebrity judge of all things jerk. Shaggy joked that Leon had better learn to cook jerk if he was going to be an adequate judge of this specialty dish!
Trevor Scotland, Director of Marketing & Special Events is the public face of Roy Wilkins Park, hosting the jerkers for another year after the highly successful launch there last year. General Manager of Grace Foods International, Derrick Record gave a potted history of his company's involvement with Jerkfest - now branded as the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival a "Jerk Revolution" showcasing the different and varied foods and commodities that can be jerked. Patrons can be sure to be dazzled by the dishes on display, including jerk techniques applied to lobster, turkey, soup, corn and even ice-cream.
The art of jerking is evidenced in the history of the Taino Indians of the Caribbean who brought this highly marinaded, slow cooking format from Peru - right up to the Maroons who perfected the craft and utilised the meats to sustain them in their forays against the British Redcoats in the Maroon Wars.
Eddie Edwards, CEO of Jerkfest (now known as Jamaica Jerk Festival USA Inc.) outlined the vision 12 years ago of that first event in Florida's Pembroke Pines that put his company in the sights of Grace one of Jamaica's best-known brands. Blazing trails Grace has moved into the big league, becoming a major sponsor along with Western Union at Caribbean events in the tri-state area. Every successful venture has a silent group that drives the engine and Mr. Edwards was quick to mention his winning team, some life-long friends for over 30 years.
On July 21 2013, if last year is anything to go by, the park will be packed to capacity and everyone is urged to come for the food and stay for the fun. Definitely the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival has it all, music, food, celebrity and entertainment in the form of a 'pop-up art gallery', cultural stage, childrens' play area and jerk cook-off. Partners and sponsors include VP Records, Vitamalt, Digicell and Western Union are certainly looking to capitalise on this family fun day with tickets priced to go at $25 in advance or $40 on the day.