Dewyane Taylor says he was tired of just talking about a festival featuring Jamaican culture at its best, so he and his friend, Kulwant Dhillon, started one last year. Now, as the Cocktails and Jerk Festival approaches its second annual event, they’ve moved it to Dr. Wilbert Mcintyre Park for a two-day tasty experience just off Whyte Avenue.
For Taylor, a perfect Jamaican festival is where people from other cultures also want to join the party. The festival features four DJs playing vibrant Jamaican music, an African drumming workshop, licensed cocktail booths, food vendors, a craft vendor, a Jamaican grocery booth and a breathtaking fire-breathing performance.
“Jamaica has a population of 2.7 million, but there’s another 2 million of tourists who come and sit on the beach to sip cocktails. We put ‘cocktail’ in the front of the title, because who doesn’t love a tropical cocktail?”
And if you’re not familiar with the culture, Taylor and his friends are at the festival to tell you all about it. This year, they’ve also added Jamaican Indigenous performances to present the history of jerk culture.
“I learned a lot about myself from organizing the festival,” says Taylor. “Jerks were made by runaway slaves who need to hide their traces. The Indigenous people of Jamaica taught them how to cook without making a fire, so they bury the meat with spices in the ground and let the heat bring out its flavour.”
With only a few days before the festival starts, Taylor and Dhillon can already see where everything is going to be on the ground.
“Last year on Instagram, I saw people I didn’t even know posted their highlights of the year, and they posted photos of themselves drinking cocktails at our festival. That was the reason why I wanted to continue doing it,” says Taylor.
Sip cocktails and dance at the Cocktails and Jerk Festival, September 3 – 4.