On July 4, the Portland Jerk Festival will be celebrated in Boston, a district within the parish of Portland in the resort area of Port Antonio. First organised by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), together with members of the Portland community and the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the festival is now in its fourth year and has become a great favourite among locals and visitors. Its timing at the end of Portland’s annual Homecoming Week is synchronized with a program of events designed to capture the interest of Jamaicans living overseas and rekindle awareness of the country’s rich history and cultural heritage.
With opening time set for 9:00 a.m., vendors set up food stations where they prepare and serve their own specialty jerk dishes. Packaged jerk items are also offered. A competition for the best booth is sponsored by the Tourism Product Development Company, Ltd., encouraging creativity in booth design and quality in the products offered. Demonstrations of jerk techniques are staged, and children enjoy a special entertainment program. Byron Lee and the Dragonaires will be performing, along with local talent from the parish.
A big favourite with family groups, this upbeat event attracts visitors from all over the island; arrangements are in place with hotels and guesthouses in the Port Antonio area to offer preferred rates for attendees.
Commenting on the event’s growing popularity, Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook said, “For Jamaicans living overseas, the events of Homecoming Week are a fascinating representation of the island’s history and culture, and an effective link with the vibrancy of our daily lifestyle. It’s the ideal time to come back to Jamaica.”