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Now that the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival is going to be 18 years old, it was time for some changes, say organizers.
“We’ve grown so much that last year we had 12,000 people and 32 food vendors,” says Eddy Edwards, the co-founder and CEO of Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, Inc. “We started out with local acts based here in Florida and over the years we’ve presented internationally acclaimed acts, like Shaggy. And we continue to feature local Florida-based acts, too. We’ve gone from one stage to three stages.”
The location will also change this year: The festival will be produced at Miramar Regional Park on Sunday, Nov. 10, from noon to 10 p.m.
“It’s a new venue, we’ve made enhancements,” adds Edwards, who also produces Jamaican jerk festivals in New York and Washington, D.C. "It’s a little more compact. We were a little too sprawling in Markham Park [in Sunrise]. We started out in [Pembroke Pines’ C.B.] Smith Park and we grew out of their the first four years. "
The Miramar resident adds, “What’s great about Miramar Park is that it’s more compact ... [and] the whole park is well-lit. It used to be that there was a long walk from where you park to the actual festival site. Parking is much closer at Miramar Park. And we have a covered amphitheater to protect us from the elements.”
As the title implies — Grace Foods makes Jamaican and Caribbean food products — there will be plenty of food trucks and booths serving island cuisine. There will also be a jerk chicken cooking contest in the Publix Culinary Pavilion, featuring local celebrities such as Miramar mayor and ex-football player Wayne Messam and Cat Coore of the Jamaican reggae fusion band Third World, who will also perform at the festival.
“Last year [late WPLG-TV reporter] Todd Tongen was up against WTVJ-TV’s [Roxanne] Vargas,” recalls Edwards. “Todd won three years straight. Now we’re going to name that trophy in his honor at this year’s festival.”
In addition to stand-up comedian Chris “Johnny” Daley and DJ Wizard, the entertainers this year will include:
The festival takes place at Miramar Regional Park, 16801 Miramar Parkway, in Miramar.
Tickets are $30 for general admission, $60 for premium general admission and $150 for VIP.