More than 5,000 people converged on Historic Downtown Bessemer on June 1, 2019 to take part in the 2019 Caribbean Food and Music Festival at DeBardeleben park.
The festival, organized each year by the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization, was held for the first time this year in Bessemer.
The organization had held the event in downtown Birmingham the previous seven years of its existence.
The festival featured Caribbean-themed music , dancing and food as more than 45 vendors packed DeBardeleben Park. A parade was held earlier in the day. Sponsors for the event included Alabama Power, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, iBeria Bank, McDonald’s, 98.7 Kiss FM, Roxxy Rocks and the city of Bessemer. Admission to the festival was free.
Festival organizers said they enjoyed sharing Caribbean culture with the residents of Bessemer and surrounding communities.
Mayor Kenneth Gulley greeted the crowd and thanked the organization, as well as city staff, for working diligently to make the festival a success in Bessemer. Gulley said the organization approached the city a little over two months ago to host the event in Bessemer after the organization determined the cost of hosting the event in Birmingham would be too great.
“What an awesome crowd and what an awesome day to have a Caribbean Festival in the city of Bessemer,” Gulley said. “The beauty of this is we put this together in less than two months.”
Festival-goers said they enjoyed the shade provided by the tree canopy at DeBardeleben Park and the myriad of activities associated with the festival. In addition to numerous food vendors serving everything from Jamaican to Cuban dishes, there was line dancing, salsa performances and a performance by the Revolution Reggae Band.
Visitors came from as far away as Ohio and California to partake in the festivities. Also on hand were Artra Armbrister-Rolle, Counsul General for the Bahamas Consulate in Atlanta and officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism Office.
Pauline Ford-Caesar, festival organizer, said the organization plans to bring the festival back to Bessemer on June 13, 2020 and is already making plans to do so.