Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.
After 300 years of British rule, Jamaica declared itself an independent state on Aug. 6, 1962.
As you can imagine, that date is a big holiday in the Caribbean island nation. And 59 years later it’s also a reason to celebrate here in South Florida with its large and growing Jamaican population. Broward County has the most Jamaicans in Florida, a state with more than 300,000, second only to New York, according to census figures.
But since the actual holiday falls on a Friday, when everyone is still a little worn down from the workweek, most of the events here will take place on Saturday, Aug. 7 (see list below).
“Jamaica’s independence is not only about the celebration of freedom and progress … for us it’s an opportunity to express who and what Jamaica and Jamaicans are about, the people,” explains Sean Roberts, of the multimedia network and platform Caribcast. “Our [national] motto, ‘Out of Many, One People,” represents Jamaica’s heritage and diversity, from black to white to brown and all shades in between. We are all one.”
Caribcast is staging the second annual Jamaican Independence Jam on Saturday, Aug. 7, with performances by DJ Radcliffe, Mark Swaby and Waggy T.
Roberts says reggae singers such as Pluto Shervington, Ernie Smith and Gem Myers often make unscheduled cameo appearances at Caribcast events.
The party will be on Aug. 7 from 4 to 10 p.m. at the warehouse of Artistic Custom Railings and Gates, Inc. at 5401 NE 14th Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $15 general admission through CaribTix.com.
The inaugural Jam in 2020 was a virtual livestream because of COVID-19.
“What we learned was that Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica are always ready, willing and able to support great quality entertainment especially at this festive time of the year,” Roberts says. “The 2021 staging of the event will take a hybrid format — live in-person and virtual online — allowing for local patrons in South Florida to attend in-person, while observing social distancing and suggested mask-wearing guidelines.”
This year’s event also will be livestreamed at Caribcast.com/live. Caribcast’s team includes Roberts, DJ Radcliffe and Tyrone Robertson and has been mounting events in Jamaica and South Florida since the 1990s. Labor Day weekend they plan on a party in Miramar, a meet-up in Weston and a brunch in Plantation.
“Our events certainly represent us as Jamaicans, but more so give us an opportunity and platform to showcase our culture, style and diversity,” Roberts adds.
Other Jamaican Independence events in SoFlo
- Jrk! — the Jamaican fast-casual restaurant inside the Treats Food Hall at Aventura Mall — is commemorating Jamaican Independence Day from 1-6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6. In addition to a DJ, there will be a tasting with mini patties (jerk chicken for $3.95, beef for $3.45 and vegan for $4.45) and Jamaican sodas (grapefruit, ginger, “champagne’ kola and pineapple for $3.95 each). You can also purchase raffle tickets for a $50 JRK! gift card. Proceeds from the raffle will go to a Jamaican school. Jrk! is located at 19565 Biscayne Blvd. Ste. FH10, Aventura. For more information, call 305-974-2480 or go to EatJrk.com.
- “Let’s Go Dancin’” virtual event with performances from Michael “Music Maestro” Barnett, Stokey Love, Senor Daley, DJ Edson and hosted by Louis Owens. The livestream starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, at CollectorsKornerNow.com.
- Reggae Summer Splash is being produced behind the scenes by the iconic reggae band Inner Circle and will have live performances by Mykal Rose and Red Rat. There will also be Jamaican arts, crafts and cuisine for sale. The event is 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Bunche Park and Pool Recreational Complex at 15727 NW 22nd Ave., in Miami Gardens. Admission is free, but you must register at Eventbrite.com.
- Miami Reggae Festival’s lineup spotlights Adonai Sound, Bass Odyssey, Big Life Sound, Downbeat the Ruler, King Addies International, King Champion, King Waggy Tee, MetroMedia, Ontrack Disco, Overproof Movements, Poison Dart, Rocksteadyy, Soul Supreme, Stone Love, Super Storm, Warrior Sound International and will be hosted by Mutabaruka. The festival will take place Aug. 7-8 at the Opa Locka Hialeah Flea Market, 12705 NW 42nd Ave., in Opa-locka. There are various admission prices ranging from general admission for $35 and VIP for $75 to luxury packages for $1,600 and $2,500. To order, go to MiamiReggaeFestival.com or Eventbrite.com.