The Caribbean comes to Charleston with Carifest
By Devin Grant Special to The Post and Courier | Wednesday, June 13, 2012
If you go
What: Charleston Carifest
For more info: www.charlestoncarifest.com
With the first day of summer just around the corner, thoughts are likely turning to sitting by a crystal-blue Caribbean ocean sipping a tropical drink.
While the current economy won’t allow many of us to indulge in a trip to the islands, a three-day event this weekend aims to bring a bit of the Caribbean to the Holy City.
Carifest brings the sights, sounds and tastes of the Caribbean islands to Charleston with a series of events that begin today.
Lorna Shelton-Beck is the event’s organizer, and as she walked downtown last week handing out fliers for the event, she explained what Carifest is all about.
“This is our seventh year,” she said, “and Carifest began as a way to celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month. Over the years the festival has grown, both in attendance and in the support we get from outside.”
Shelton-Beck is proud of what Carifest has accomplished in its seven years.
“Seeing the growth and the people that have come out has been very rewarding,” she said.
Each year, the festival honors a country from the Caribbean. Past years have seen the honor go to St. Lucia, Barbados and the Dominican Republic. This year, Jamaica, which happens to be Shelton-Beck’s country of origin, steps into the spotlight. Jamaica celebrates 50 years of independence this year.
Carifest opens today with a symposium at the Avery Research Center on Bull Street.
The film “Akwantu: The Journey,” which documents the struggles of the Maroons, Jamaica’s first inhabitants from Africa, will be screened.
The showing will be followed by a discussion led by Dr. Harcourt Fuller, a descendant of the Maroons.
The free event runs 6-9 p.m. and begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m.
Friday night, at the International Longshoreman’s Hall on Morrison Drive, the festival continues with the Masquerade Fete.
The Mardi Gras party will feature masked attendees enjoying a dinner of Jamaican dishes followed by dancing to soca and reggae music.
The event begins at 7 p.m., and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Carifest Children’s Steel Band Project.
Tickets, which are $40, are available at Things Caribbean, 1644 Ashley Hall Road, or online at carifest masqueradefete.eventbrite.com.
Saturday brings a flurry of activity downtown.
Things kick off at 3 p.m. as the Carnival Street Parade begins at the Visitor Center on Ann Street and travels through the city to Brittlebank Park.
Music trucks will lead the parade, which anyone is welcome to join, and will feature revelers dressed in colorful costumes dancing to steel band, soca and reggae music.
Once the parade participants arrive at Brittlebank Park, they will join the Carnival Finale, which will feature Caribbean food and drinks, arts and crafts, music and more.
Advance tickets for the finale are $6, $10 at the gate. Find out more atwww.charlestoncarifest.com.