Thursday, 31 March 2016

GOSPEL SPOTLIGHT: Spring Praise puts a fresh twist on the traditional gospel fest

GOLDEN NOTES: Downswell and his singers are expected to thrill concertgoers at the fest this weekend. Below, fellow headliner Papa San.

From Fun in the Son to GoSplash to First Fest and Freedom Fest (and the list goes on), the local music scene has no shortage of joyful noise-themed festivals that meld a breezy praise-party vibe with live performances by some of gospel’s best. Enter the Spring Praise festival, which promises to put a new spin on the traditional formula by offering more, way more.

Bringing the spirit-lifting energy to Folly in Portland this weekend (April 1-3), the inaugural event will spread over three days – opening with a praise party on Friday, a megaconcert on Saturday and a family fun day to bring the curtains down on Sunday. According to Cheryl Crooks, event manager and PR woman extraordinaire, “alternative” is the buzzword when it comes to the Spring Praise Fest and its diverse offerings.

“We want to do it annually around spring break because our aim is to make it an alternative to the regular parties and other events that take place in Negril and Montego Bay,” Crooks tells TALLAWAH, calling via telephone. “We are also hoping to get persons from overseas to come down for [the festival], in addition to the locals who will be making the trip to Portland.”

As it turns out, the three-day festival offers the perfect opportunity to tap into the parish’s historical and tourist-y appeal. “We want to incorporate tours, rafting. People who want to visit the historic sites can do so,” Crooks says. “We really want to boost the economy of [the parish]. Craft vendors can come and sell their items as well. We’ll be having lots of booth displays.”

And then there’s the entertainment package. It doesn’t get any better than consummate headliners Papa San and Kevin Downswell lighting up the main stage, with the likes of Lubert Levy and Katalys, among others. Throw into the mix domino tournaments, six-a-side football, fun rides for the kids, world-famous jerked chicken, and giveaways galore, and you have the makings of a dreamy, postcard-perfect getaway to groovy Portie – soul-stirring music and great sightseeing opportunities included.

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