WE ARE FAMILY: A trio of girl pals strike a pose at the entrance to the photography exhibition, one of the cool new additions to the Village.
What a difference a year makes. That’s precisely how Janet Barrett felt after making the rounds at the Independence Village at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston last week. Like other patriotic Jamaicans who made the trip up to the Hope Road venue, Barrett was quick to notice the vast improvements, the multiple additions to the facilities and the vibrant energy all around compared to last year.
Craft vendors and corporate entities, cultural agencies and culinary establishments rubbing shoulders with JDF representatives and personnel from the Passport and Immigration Office – who all set up booths to interact and transact business with Jamaicans and tourists from all walks.
A kiddies’ village, a lavish photographic exhibition featuring Jamaican icons, vendors of fresh fruit and ground produce, and an enthusiastic sound system also added to the diverse fare on offer at this black-green-and-gold culture haven.
“I think everything we’re seeing is a step above what we saw last year. You can feel the difference,” Barrett noted, stopping by the National Library of Jamaica’s tent. “The surroundings are much neater and the atmosphere is just right. My only complaint is that it’s a bit too noisy here. You can hardly hear yourself when you’re having a conversation. But that’s a general feeling I have about fairs and events like these in Jamaica. The noise can be a bit excessive.”
For Gwyneth Harold Davidson (whose Young Adult hangout provided a cozy meet-and-greet spot for book lovers, chess enthusiasts, and those interested in the new adult colouring-book craze) seeing family members taking the tour together was one of the highlights for her. “Based on what I’m seeing a lot of groups have come out, a lot of families have come out. We need more events like these that allow families to spend quality time together and enjoy the culture together,” she told TALLAWAH.
Amina Blackwood-Meeks agrees, giving the organizers the thumbs-up for layout and attention to detail. She pointed out, “The facilities provided are very good, and it’s organized in such a way that vendors can share good service.” Meanwhile, radio and TV host Jenny Jenny also had high praises for the JCDC’s team while hosting Wednesday’s World Reggae Dance Championship Finals, at one point urging the crowd to put their hands together for the staff and “the idea of an Independence Village.”
Jewelry designer and vendor Maxine Stoney, who came all the way from Trelawny, added her applause for a job well done. “A little bit of everything is here, and that is ideal for an occasion like this,” said the Falmouth resident who, like Davidson, was making her debut at the Village. “I like the turnout. This week went well for me, so I’m planning to come back next year.”
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