Middle Georgia Island Festival offers a sampling of the Caribbean culture

bpurser@macon.comJune 28, 2014 

Those who came out to the Middle Georgia Island Festival at Smiley’s Flea Market on Saturday caught a glimpse of the Caribbean culture through food, music, dance and games.

“A lot of the Caribbean community is right here in Middle Georgia,” said Linda Solomon, one of the organizers of the one-day event. “This is our new home and we want to be a part of the community.

“We want them to know we love Middle Georgia and we want Middle Georgia to love us, too. So, we want to share some of our culture, and of course, have a lot of fun and let them know that the Caribbean has rhythm,” Solomon said as she swayed from side to the side to the live band playing reggae music behind her.

The event offered different types of Caribbean food, folk music and dancing, limbo dancing, a maypole and domino games.

Among the food offerings were oxtail, curry goat, jerk pork, jerk chicken, rib sandwiches, coco bread and Jamaican patties. Also offered were plantain chips and a few desserts such as grater cake.

Ellen Banks, of Dry Branch, said she just happened upon the island festival during her regular weekend trip to Smiley’s.

“It’s just amazing,” said the 58-year-old Banks, who was resting in a chair in the shade. “Everything is so calm, cool and relaxed. You can sit down and relax and enjoy yourself.”

Joan Cassells, a native of Jamaica who lives in Covington, brought her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren to the festival. She’s friends with Solomon and heard about the event from her.

“I think it’s great,” Cassells said. “A lot of the people you don’t know in the community come together and have fun in a nice way.”

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas read a proclamation on behalf the mayor and the other commissioners honoring the festival.

Fort Valley State University President Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith was also on hand.

“We’ve got a presence here because we’re marketing the value of Fort Valley in the community,” Griffith said. “And we’re a part of the community.

“It’s important that the community knows about us and the community sees us at community events,” he said.

Born in Guyana, South America, Griffith said he’s also considered Caribbean.

“This community has a great Caribbean constituency. So they invited me to come to the event as a Caribbean person. But I know that a university has many Caribbeans in a lot of communities. So we’re here because the community is important to us,” Griffith said.

Prizes were offered at the festival and required a $2 donation, with proceeds to help benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The grand prize was a cruise for two to the Bahamas.

Organizers hope to hold another festival in the sometime in the near future. For more information, contact Solomon at 478-973-1762.

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