The Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Junkanoo Summer Festival 2019’ has been described as a fantastic success. This general view was expressed by many locals and vendors who spoke with this news daily during the last of the two extravaganzas this past Saturday at Smiths’ Point.
It seemed that those who came out for the occasions enjoyed themselves and there was a consensus that the festival should have been extended for two more Saturdays. It was clear that there is a desire for activities that cater to Bahamian culture.
The features on Saturday, August 17, included Junkanoo groups competing for a grand prize; a special performance by the Royal Bahamas Police Pop Band; and the highly-anticipated appearance by Bahamian artist K.B.
Gully Wash Beach Bar and Grill Owner, Richard Ellis said the festival was long overdue and ignited the Smiths’ Point Settlement.
“I think Junkanoo Festival is a very good thing. It is long overdue, but I think it is a good thing for businesses in the area. The road has been closed for three years and businesses have been stagnant, but now this is a boost.
“I have a bar and grill and we do a lot of international drinks, so it’s like an international bar and not only local catering. We have local food such as fried fish, conch, lobster, and shrimp. During the Junkanoo festival, business has been consistent. There are a lot of people coming out and people are actually patronizing,” he said.
When asked on what he would like to see happening in addition on the island, Ellis said more similar activities to attract tourists and locals.
“The regatta that recently happened, was a success. But I would like to see more tourism events, and I think this should’ve been extended. They planned for three. One was canceled due to the weather and sadly this is the last one and they are not going to do another one which I think is wrong. I think they should have the third one because this is a good thing. There is nothing much for tourists to do on the island and Smith’s Point is a unique settlement.
“I would like to see the Bahamas become a big host nation” he added. We need to host more national and international events. We have the infrastructure as far as the land and we can build professional facilities, like stadium, race track to host Indy 500. We could have events like X Games and benefit from being so close to America.
“People travel all around the world to participate in events. If The Bahamas had an Indy 500 track here, I am sure an Indy 500-type event would come to The Bahamas. We can host events, host professional sports and become a huge host nation,” he emphasized.
Grill Man Mario Jones said: “The Junkanoo festival is amazing. I think it is an injection to our economy and it brings the Bahamian people together. This is excellent for families and friends for everyone to come together and I am excited about it. This is the first of its kind for Smiths’ Point and I can say that truly this is amazing. It is a blessing to this community and everything that have been done before has been put in place. Everything is running orderly and this is excellent for Grand Bahama at this time.”
Junkanoo lover David Sarette said New Year’s Parade Champion Platinum Knights was an eye catcher and that more fun-filled events like the Junkanoo festival are needed to prevent acts of violence.
“Tonight was good. I enjoyed watching the groups with everyone having fun, the little the kids were also having a good time. Platinum Knights was decent, everyone was together, the costumes was nice and the music sounded really good.
“In addition, I would like to see more family events so crime could drop a little bit. I think the more family events you have, the more together as Bahamians we would be. I think another thing we can do is help someone. The more we help one another, the less idle time we will have to do wrong,” he said.
“I like what is going on and if I like it then everybody likes it,” said On da Porch Owner, Donald Rigby
“I like the music. The Junkanoo is really good and it is really uplifting. What I look at is the guests coming out here and how they react to it. They seem to love our culture and I like that. I love all the groups.
“If we could have this going on like how it is going now, this can do a lot for The Bahamas. Tourism isn’t what it used to be, right now, so whatever can make a difference, I would like to see happen,” said Rigby.
First time visitor David Capousek and his wife from the Czech Republic gave his personal experience on a culture he has never seen before.
“This is very interesting to see. We are very pleasantly surprised to know how nice this is. I have never seen this kind of activity before. But seeing this is my first time in Bahamas, all of this is interesting to witness,” said Capousek.
Retired Educator, Cecil Thompson applauded Tourism for a job well done and said it has become one of his favorite events for the year.
“As far as I am concerned, the Ministry of Tourism has to be given the highest recommendation for organizing the event.
“In my humble opinion, it is off the chain and it is the one of the best Junkanoo parades I have ever seen. It gives the New Year’s Day Parade a run for their money and there is no time lapse in between. The groups are all in full costume and the music is nice.
“Of course you can see thousands of Bahamians and visitors enjoying themselves. I am here with my wife, our three grandchildren and we are having the time of our lives,” said Thompson.
Dancer Annie Bartlett excitedly shared with news daily that “the vibe at the festival was one of kind.” While enjoying the music of the Royal Bahamas Police pop band, she said everything was fantastic.
“I am out here at Junkanoo Festival just having an awesome time. I love Bahamian music. The vibe is high, the music is playing and we are having a wonderful time.”
Junkanoo Summer Festival 2019 hosts, Yolanda Hanna and Trevor Russell spoke about the concept of the festival.
Hanna said: “This is an amazing cultural event at Smiths’ Point. I am very excited that Ministry of Tourism had the foresight to bring Junkanoo Summer festival here to Smiths’ Point.
“I know the last one we did was in West End and that was amazing, but to see how Junkanoo brings people to communities is such a heartwarming experience and it is also a very exciting experience. The Junkanoo groups were amazing and the support from the community was phenomenal.
“Last week was the first week and we had good numbers. This week, we have even greater numbers. I always say these kind of events are our things and we if don’t support our things, it is going to die and become extinct so I am happy that all ages came out and supported this festival,” said Hanna.
Russell chimed in and said “Junkanoo is Bahamian this is basically us. This is through our blood. This is what we know and it is a blessing to be a part of this Junkanoo festival.”