Caribbean Fest Will Teach Youth about Their Past, Unite Community

Article excerpt

Byline: Beau Halton, Shorelines editor

Putting on the Caribbean Fest for the past five years in Jacksonville Beach has resulted in some pretty good parties.

"We like to tell people, 'don't bother traveling to the Caribbean, we'll bring it to you,' " said Riveau Michel, executive director of the non-profit group Caribbean Friends.

But he concedes that with the sixth annual Caribbean Fest scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the beachfront SeaWalk Pavilion area, there's an ulterior motive to putting on the festival.

"We're trying to help bring Jacksonville's Caribbean community together," said Michel, who's originally from Haiti. "We always try to stay away from politics, but culturally, we can come together and become more of a cohesive voice. We'd like to become a voice to help make some good things happen for the community."

In pockets scattered throughout the Jacksonville area, people have moved to the city from all over the Caribbean, from its southern tip of Trinidad and Tobago to Cuba, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

In addition to Caribbean foods, arts and crafts and other attractions, this year's festival will have a familiar lineup of musicians, including Deja, Mystic Dino, the Brian Solomon Steel Band, Slice International, Ayabonmbe and Scholar's Word. Depending on the weather, anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 people are expected through the weekend, Michel said. …


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