By Krista Henry, Staff Reporter
Jamaicans celebrated the nation's culture and heroes at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) Heritage Fest 2006 on Monday at the Ranny Willams Entertainment Centre. The event got off to lively start and had activities for everyone.
Heritage Fest showcases the food, culture, arts, music, dance and traditions of the many cultural identities in Jamaica. With events for the children and adults Heritage Fest proved to be an educational yet fun way to spend National Heroes' Day. For the kids there were bounce a bounces, a train, a mechanical bull, mountain climbing, booths where they could win stuffed animals and much more. On the cultural side, there were display booths that had information about each National Hero with accompanying pictures, books and trivia.
As one walked, looking at all the displays it was evident the vast cultural heritage of Jamaicans. There were stands that had Indian Henna designs (temporary tattoos) being offered, as well as Indian clothing, healing creams and more. The African presence was also visible with artworks, sculptures, jewellery and more. Missing though was a tangible sense of the European cultural heritage, there were no booths that displayed any piece of that history, which is also an important part of our heritage.
On the food scene there was an eclectic array of mouth watering goodies to choose from. There were food booths offering Chinese, Indian, African and Caribbean, International as well good old Jamaican cuisine. Desserts were in abundance too, with snow cones, cakes and sweets.
As the day progressed the venue people poured in, walking around enjoying the offerings. The many booths weren't the only attractions, as the best of the JCDC's performing arsenal was featured. The day was divided into four different segments of performances hosted by emcee Heather Grant and Fae Ellington. The first segment featured performances from the Hartford Cultural Group with a traditional folk dance 'Gerreh Suite'. Also featured was Sashareen Taylor, a gold medallist in the 2006 speech competition who performed an enchanting Miss Lou poem 'Anansy and Fire'. During the various breaks the crowd listened to the soothing tunes of cultural hero Bob Marley. The second set had the Eltham High School winners of nine gold medals and three national trophies in the JCDC Performing Arts competitions. They danced to The Sound of Africa doing a piece entitled 'Praise Africa'. Their young forms decked in colourful lime green and purple costumes, moved fluently to the beat hypnotising the audience as they finished with a big finale hoisting a dancer in the air. Other acts for the night included Avenia Powell, a teacher at Calabar Infant and Junior High who did her piece, 'Pastor and the Puss', the extremely talented Clonmel Cultural Group with Ettu, Tambu and Gerreh - Integrated dance, Islington Group with 'Dinki Mini' and Stella Maris Dance Ensemble with 'Kalitaibu'.
When The STAR team left the venue in the evening many persons were still streaming in to take part in a highly successful evening of cultural fun.