BY: CHELSEA OWUSU
Though summer is slowly coming to an end, there are still a number of events bringing the heat to the community.
This weekend, in the small town of Orangeville, residents filled Mill Street and Broadway to take part in Caribfest and Taste of Orangeville. Throughout the crowd, there were not only local residents, but many people from neighbouring cities also visited to get a taste of what the Orangeville community has to offer.
Caribfest was inspired by two Orangeville natives, Phillip DeWar and Donald Hochoy. The two were driven to bring the diversity and culture of the Caribbean to Orangeville. DeWar and Hochoy, both of Jamaican descent, want to share the rich history and spirit of their culture with the Dufferin County. Caribfest also highlights the many different flavours of food and drink that the Caribbean culture is known for.
Taste of Orangeville highlights the town’s best of both shopping and food. Multiple local restaurants offer tastings of their best products. “Taste of Orangeville has been around in the town since 2013. It’s really an arena for some of the local independent restaurants to showcase their talent, give sample-sized portions to the community so that they could showcase some of their offerings,” says DeWar.
The Taste of Orangeville event is hosted under a large tent where you could find a number of different menus from many different restaurants, including a lot of locally produced foods. Throughout Mill Street, the extended patios and the sound of live music add to the atmosphere.
“We decided to host Caribfest and Taste of Orangeville on the same day so we could generate a little bit more energy,” says DeWar.
Soulyve Caribbean Restaurant, located on the corner of Mill Street, is owned and operated by DeWar. The restaurant was filled with people looking to get a bite of their popular grilled mac and cheese sandwich and maple syrup jerk chicken wings. “We’re just trying to introduce the flavours and infuse the idea of Carib meets the countryside,” says DeWar. His restaurant has been featured on The Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here!” and “The Marilyn Denis Show”. Soulyve is known for its upscale environment that serves unique Caribbean dishes that has gained recognition all over the GTA.
Besides the food, live musical talent could be heard throughout the downtown core. A small stage at the corner of Mill Street showcased Errol Blackwood and his band, Injahband. Blackwood is originally from Jamaica and is widely known from his previous music group, Messenjah, a Canadian-based reggae group. “I started the band Messenjah. We were signed to Warner Bros. and toured the U.S. and Canada. Right now we’re Injahband, and we play all around, including festivals from here all the way to Texas,” says Blackwood. Injahband is a roots reggae group that has performed in many different venues across Canada. “Roots reggae is more like spiritual reggae, and is more about the culture and singing about peace, love, unity, and justice,” says Blackwood.
Though there were scattered showers throughout the day, that did not stop the crowd from having fun. The streets were filled with celebration, including live African drums, ice carving, contests, and giveaways. The music brought the crowd to their feet, and many could be seen dancing along to the island beats. Carib101 Radio’s DJ Rory and DJ Chuck also provided live music to add to the street party atmosphere.
Both Caribfest and Taste of Orangeville were well-organized events, bringing in thousands to support the community. There was something for everyone to enjoy, and both events catered to a variety of different needs.