BY JELANI GRANT
This year’s Jerkfest will have a number of enjoyable activities for a weekend of family fun. Delicious jerked cuisine is to be expected, but the performance art scheduled throughout the weekend will be something to remember.
The annual jerk festival is scheduled at Centennial Park in Etobicoke from Friday, August 5th to Sunday, August 7th, opening at 5pm on Friday.
A new addition to the festival is the TD Culture Stage, where local, upcoming performance artists selected by TD Bank and Caribbean Promotions Arts & Culture Inc. will showcase their talents.
On Friday night, the Love & R&B edition showcasing Grammy nominee Joe, American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and Toronto’s Queen of R&B Jully Black. The gates will open at 5 pm until 10pm, though the first performance will begin at 6:45pm and the feature performance is scheduled for 8:30pm.
On Saturday and Sunday, talent such as Etana, Ammoye, Rev. Gerry Thompson, LUST, Full Sound, Circle 5 Band, Pan Fantasy, Level Exodus, D Lyfe, Spice Island Performers and Third World will headline both Saturday and Sunday.
Lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged as anyone coming from work can enjoy food vendors, good music as well as arts and crafts tables. Patrons should be prepared for unforgettable amazement as cooks are always challenging themselves by bringing something new and different to the festival.
VIP Garden ticket buyers will be granted access to a delicious jerk chicken meal made by two-time Jerkfest champion vendor Bliss Tropical Cuisine, a 15th Anniversary welcome prize pack, line bypass throughout the festival, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, a chance to sample the jerk food vendors’ signature jerk dish, a chance to win a three-night vacation and a reserved seat at the front of the stage.
Also, LIVEstyle Entertainment Supper Clubs Executive Chef La-Toya Fagon will host the Grace Foods Experience Tent to demonstrate new recipes in live workshops each day at 1:30pm, 3:00pm and 5:00pm. Be sure to arrive early though as the first fifty participants will receive a free gift.
The festival will include a number of competitions such as So You Think You Can Jerk, which will have four contestants on each day compete for the best jerk recipe using only the seasoning provided by Jerkfest. Contestants will only have one hour, but the winner will take home a trophy and $100 in prize money. During the weekend there will also be the jerk chicken eating competition, with eight participants each day and the Drop A Six domino challenge hosting one hundred competitors against each other. Children will enjoy face painting, mountain climbing, balloon characters, inflatable rides and other family-friendly activities at the Kidz Zone.
The Grace Jerkfest is taking every measure to ensure guests can reach the festival without struggling with parking by partnering with OLGC at Woodbine Racetrack, providing free shuttle bus services from OLGC’s parking lot D4 to the festival between 2:00pm and 10:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. The official hotel accommodation partners Courtyard by Marriott & Residence Inn by Marriott are offering hotel deals during the weekend. Presenting a receipt or invoice to confirm the reservation will offer discount prices to the VIP Garden Experience.