Sumfest excitement fills MoBay

July 21, 2017
The Sumfest stage at Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, has already been set.
Dancehall artiste Spice
Mavado performing at Reggae Sumfest in 2011.
Bounty Killer
Tommy Lee Sparta
Robert Russell
The Sumfest stage at Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, has already been set.

The Reggae Sumfest stage at Catherine Hall, St James, has been set, and the excitement permeating throughout the air has reached fever pitch.

Organisers have already splashed "hundreds of millions" of dollars on the 25th anniversary event, and according to Robert Russell, ticket sales have been going well.

"The interest has been high. Everybody is planning to head to Montego Bay," said Russell, a member of the management team, who describes the excitement as unreal.

The week-long festival enters the home stretch today with the staging of 'dancehall' night, which features several headline acts such as Mavado, Alkaline, Bounty Killer and Aidonia and Spice.

Montego Bay-born and bred star Tommy Lee Sparta is expected to close dancehall night. It will be the first time since being barred by cops in 2015 that the 'Uncle Demon' is being booked for the show.

"It is the world's greatest reggae festival, and if you have a festival like this at your doorstep and you don't attend, obviously you don't like the music. You are going to get the best of dancehall and the best of reggae at this festival. We are pulling out all the stops to make sure that everybody has a great time," Russell said.

Montego Bay, the place where Sumfest is being held, has been one of the bloodiest places on the island, but Russell is convinced that crime will not impact the event.

"Everything is peace and quiet. Normally every time we have Sumfest the crime rate goes right down because people get an opportunity to earn some money and they don't really have time for crime. Hopefully, this year will be no exception. It is a Sumfest kind of magic because everybody just wants it to succeed and to do well, and to welcome our visitors to Montego Bay and to make them feel at home, and we go the extra mile to do that," Russell said.

Meanwhile, Russell said that artistes have been told that they are expected to ensure the five-year badword-free show would continue.

"What we are saying is that people are bringing their families here. We are broadcasting to the rest of the world. We are streaming to millions of people across the world in 360 degrees. We want to give the best impression of Jamaica, not one that is laced with expletives and obscenities. We want to show our country to the world that this is the best little island in the world," he said.

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