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The bad news is that, once again, the COVID-19 kibosh has reared its ugly head.
This time the pandemic’s surging numbers due to the delta variant are reportedly what is behind the postponement of the Caribbean Food and Rum Festival, which was to have taken place in Hollywood on Sept. 5.
The good news is that the reggae, soca and dancehall acts — Third World, Barington Levy, Alison Hinds, Patrice Roberts, Peter Ram and Julien Believe — have all agreed to perform on the new date, Dec. 12.
“[The city of Hollywood] contacted us [and] the first thing they said was they wouldn’t approve the variance for alcohol,” says festival founder Lindell Douglas, recalling communications back and forth last Thursday and Friday. “But you know, we’re a food and rum festival. So, then they came back and said because of the COVID surge, they’re not allowing any large gatherings.”
Joann Hussey, city of Hollywood spokesperson, says in an email to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Due to the delta variant, I am told all parties agreed that no one wanted this positive event to become a super spreader vector. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts did reach out to express concerns over the event as the application indicated an estimated crowd of 3,000-5,000 people. Rather than cancel, it has been postponed until December.”
Douglas said his company, CaribVille Entertainment, appealed to mayor’s office and both sides agreed that certain safeguards had to happen, including mandatory masks, temperature checks and proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.
“While we agree with all that … to settle all of that 13 days before the festival, to get word out to everyone going, we just thought that is going to create chaos at the gate.”
Douglas says that in addition to the musical acts on the bill, the festival attracts crowds because of its array of Caribbean cuisines and craft cocktails.
“There’s interest in the festival from Europe to the Caribbean,” he explains. “We have people coming from Tampa … where we saw lots of interest. We know people were going to come down holiday weekend, drive down and stay. We didn’t want to create confusion, you know? Maybe they didn’t bring their COVID card or don’t have any proof of a negative test.”
From a selection of alternative dates, Douglas says that he chose Dec. 12 “because all our artists were able to make it, without a prior commitment. By then we could put all the requirements in place. Now we have to re-market the whole event.”
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Hussey says, “The city appreciates Mr. Douglas’ flexibility as we all continue to work together to battle COVID-19, and we look forward to a fantastic event come December.”
In previous years, the fête was known as the Caribbean Village Festival and was staged in Lauderhill and then Miramar. It was also a part of Caribbean Heritage Month in June. For this seventh edition in December, the festival will move to downtown Hollywood’s ArtsPark at Young Circle.
ln addition to food trucks and stations, there will also be a Caribbean Cafe where four chefs from Haiti, Trinidad/Tobago, Jamaica and the Bahamas will create a special tasting menu with dishes infused with a liqueur unique to that island nation.
And bars set up throughout the festival will sell signature cocktails and rum blends from Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.
CaribVille Entertainment assures patrons who have already purchased admission “that the tickets will be valid for the new date, and we will keep them informed of all updates on our social media platforms and general media. All covid-19 protocols will be in place for the December staging, including but may not be limited to, temperature checks, vaccination cards or negative tests requirements and face mask. We ask for the public’s understanding as we do our best to keep you entertained even as we socially distance ourselves for safety and apologize for any inconveniences caused.”