After just its second staging, the Jamaica Rum Festival has officially secured its place in the lineup of premier Jamaican events.
The event, held over a two day period at Hope Gardens (Feb 29- March 1) brought together a multi-generational crowd, eager to indulge in the rum, the food, music, and art that the festival provided in abundance.
The rains that resulted from the cold front that passed over the island on the weekend, if anything, only showered blessings on the festival. It did not dampen the spirit of patrons who flooded both sides of Palm Drive at Hope Gardens.
A rum paradise
From the cane-lined entrance to the rum ageing barrels aesthetically placed throughout the venue, and the scent of rum that permeated the air, Hope Gardens was effectively transformed into an arena that celebrated rum; a rum paradise
And if that wasn’t indication enough, then the rum flowing freely from the many bars, where patrons eagerly satisfied their taste buds provided more than a hint.
For those who wanted to go deeper into the spirit of the rum, a total of seven seminars hosted on both days aimed to satisfy that.
These seminars gave rum enthusiasts the opportunity to learn about the rum-making process, how to mix the perfect cocktail at home, the distinction between aged, and ungaged rums, and educated them on how to preserve Jamaican rum. They covered all the bases, which is probably why all of them were totally sold-out.
And while patrons waited for the concert that kicked off at 6 PM each evening, they were kept engaged and entertained throughout the day by the different activities that were offered in the many booths on display.
These included food eating competitions, mixology competitions, massages, and a personalized music experience from Digicel.
Hosts, comedian Dufton Shepherd, and actress Sakina Deer, also did their part in entertaining the patrons by providing comedic relief. They exuded effortless hosting chemistry on stage that was in line with the whole easy-going atmosphere of the event.
It was by all indication, a fashion event too. As fashionistas made use of the chance to show up, and show out. Donning tropical floral prints, straw hats, crop tops, long flowing skirts, pastel shorts, paired with sneakers, loafers, and boots.
And the sunglasses. Although the sun hid behind the clouds on the first day of the festival, they were still very much needed to complete the outfits.
All things Jamaican
It was also a chance to shop all things Jamaican in natural soaps, handmade jewelry, massage oils, homemade seasonings, and yes, clothes.
While the organisers ensured that they provided patrons with a variety of food options to choose from, the one cashier for all the different food booths made a lot of very hungry people angry.
Thankfully, this was remedied on the second day, where all food booths now had their own cashier.
And while the conversations about the event continue into the week, and the hashtag #RumFest2020 keep appearing on social media, festival director, Valon Thrope, along with breathing a sigh of relief, is also feeling very grateful.
“We’re very thankful, we’re surprised by the interest, the amount of people showed up versus our target. In fact, we met our targets on the first day, the second day was just brawta,” he said.
He said his team is already looking into how they can make the event even more fulfilling next year.
“We’re definitely gonna have to get a bigger venue, there’s no way Hope Gardens can accommodate us anymore. For the seminar tents, we’re going to have to improve and get more tents available,” he told BUZZ.