Reggae Sumfest 30 launched amid fun and frolic
It was a case of fun and frolic overshadowing formality last Wednesday night as the organisers of Reggae Sumfest officially launched the 30th anniversary of the popular annual music festival, which will be staged in Montego Bay from July 16-22, primarily at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre.
While the speeches played second fiddle to the mixing and mingling, businessman Robert Russell, who was one of the pioneers of the festival when it came to the fore in 1993, proudly declared that the festival has now realised its main objective, which was to bring high-quality entertainment to Montego Bay during the summer.
“We are here celebrating 30 years of success for reggae music and Jamaica, and we are satisfied that we have kept our promise to give Jamaica and music lovers a world-class experience every year,” said Russell, who remained on board with the festival when the ownership of the festival changed hands from Summerfest Promotions to Joe Bogdanovich’s Downsound Entertainment.
Following Russell’s presentation, a large cake was unveiled onstage, in traditional birthday style, to mark the festival’s 30th birthday. Members of the festival’s organising cast, sponsors, and long-serving service providers were invited onstage for the cutting of the cake.
While neither Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett nor Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange was present, a moving message, highlighting the importance of the festival, was read on behalf of Grange by Montego Bay’s Mayor Leeroy Williams.
“The organisers have consistently demonstrated their continued commitment to staging this annual event in the heart of Montego Bay while keeping the local community front and centre in its planning,” stated Grange, “This is a distinction Sumfest carries with pride because the businesses that converge and thrive around this festival in Jamaica’s second city, Montego Bay, are astounding.”
In his presentation, Williams declared that, during July, during which festival-related activities will be staged, Montego Bay will be officially declared, ‘Reggae Sumfest City’.
For the sponsors, organisers and members of the Montego Bay business community, the event presented an opportunity to rub shoulders, and chit-chat with some of the elites of Jamaica’s music fraternity, among other players in the industry. Among the entertainment personalities who were spotted and were in great demand for photographs were the likes of musical couple Wayne Marshall and his wife Tami Chin Mitchell; songbird Tanya Stephens; Harry Toddler, formerly of the Scare Dem Crew; Black Ryno; Tommy Lee Sparta; artiste manager and promoter Heavy D; and producer Notnice.
The sponsors were out in all their glory headed by the Downsound team of Bogdanovich, Cordell ‘Skatta’ Burrell, Maxine McDonnough, and representatives of the main sponsor Caribbean Airlines.
The two main nights of the festival, which will be staged at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre will feature the likes of Tommy Lee Sparta, Valiant, Massika, Chronic Law, Gyptian, Jah Vinci, Marion ‘Lady Saw’ Hall, Romain Virgo, Tanya Stephens, Richie Spice, Kabaka Pyramid, D’Yani, Morgan Heritage, among other top acts who will perform as part of special theme segments.