BY JELANI GRANT
Fifteen years of varied spiced meats, seafood and vegetables being embraced to the greatest potential jerk has to offer, JerkFest will aim to amaze and satisfy the taste buds of attendees in August as a continuation from the Caribana excitement.
The festival is scheduled at Centennial Park in Etobicoke from Saturday, August 6 to Sunday, August 7, opening at 11AM. Admission for children under three will be free, kids aged 7-12 can get in for $2, while adults can enter for as little as $7.
A new addition to the festival is the TD Culture Stage, featuring a number of upcoming music artists including Etanna and Ammoye. On Friday evening, beginning at 5PM until 10PM, there will be a Love & R&B edition where an elected singer performs ballads from the 90’s and the early 21st century. Anyone interested in attending the festival can vote between Charlie Wilson, Brian McKnight, Joe and Ruben Studdard on the Jerk Festival official website.
VIP Garden ticket buyers will have access to all you can eat jerk burgers, chicken drumsticks and non-alcoholic drinks while interacting with the artists who will be conducting a meet and greet for only $20 more with advance tickets or $25 on the day.
To commemorate the festival’s 15th anniversary, CPAC has created the The 15 for 15 Caribbean Promotions Arts & Culture (CPAC) Scholarship program and will be awarded to one post-secondary student between the age of 18 and 25.
Caribbean Promotions Arts & Culture (CPAC) president Anthony Plummer founded JerkFest after he discovered that Toronto was home to dozens of food festivals, none of which were dedicated to Jamaican cuisine. The style of Jerked food comes from Jamaica and refers to the way that a meat, vegetable or fruit is seasoned and cooked. The typical cooking style uses a marinade or paste that includes at least pimento and scotch bonnet peppers, also known as habanero. The meat is then marinated and slow smoked. Since Plummer founded the event, JerkFest has celebrated the distinctive taste of the Jamaican cuisine by inviting food vendors to compete serving jerk foods such as chicken, pork, lamb and fish. However some of this year’s more exotic dishes will include rattlesnake, frog legs, alligator, moose and even kangaroo. Plummer encourages all to attend the event. “JerkFest will have something for everyone,” says Plummer.
The festival continues to grow as new partners such as Ontario Travel, Western Union and TD Canada Trust join the numerous community partners already supporting the event.
The festival will include a number of competitions such as a jerk chicken eating competition, So You Think You Can Jerk and the Drop A Six domino challenge. Those wishing to compete or attend workshops may pre-register on the official website, as space is limited and dwindling. Children will enjoy face painting, mountain climbing, balloon characters, inflatable rides and many more family-friendly activities at the Kidz Zone.