The sun was out and the birds were chirping for the inaugural Belleville Caribbean Festival on June 25.
Downtown Belleville has been the subject of several activities already this summer, including Downtown at Dusk Summer Solstice Celebration and Pride Week. The fun is just getting started and Belleville’s first ever event to celebrate the Caribbean culture was no exception!
Our day began by exploring the vendors who lined the festival streets. Whether it was fashion, collectibles or accessories for your home, local artisans from Bazaar Artisan Market were armed with friendly smiles and ready to answer any questions.
A TASTE OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE
Without a cloud in the sky and temperatures reaching thirty degrees, it was time to find shade and cool off with delicious gelato from Gourmet Diem while enjoying Steel Pan Players and local Caribbean artists Preemour, Shamar, Qurious and Jah Pickney featuring Marie-Eve, on one of downtown’s many outdoor patios.
Couples, families, and friends filled the street and its patios, occupying their time with the various activities available. Children got dinosaur face paintings, dominos laid against friends and partners shook their hips to the sounds and style of the Caribbean.
After taking in the early afternoon festivities, we were soon distracted by rumbling tummies which meant only one thing: it was time to devour some authentic Caribbean cuisine from local vendors Caribbean Kitchen and Chico’s Caribbean Crisps, known on social media as Slight Peppa Caribbean Fusion.
Lines were packed at the vendors booth showing just how much people were craving some of the Caribbean main stay meals such as Jerk Chicken or Curry & Roti.
AS THE SUN GOES DOWN, THE SOUND GOES UP
As the day turned to evening crowds flocked to the main stage across from Capers to hear Juno award winning R&B artist Sean Jones and band The Righteous Echo play out the rest of the evening.
Adults and kids together danced to the soulful sounds while Jones and The Righteous Echo mixed in classic Caribbean songs from the likes of Bob Marley to tunes from Sean’s new critically acclaimed Weekend Lover album.
IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING…
The beautiful Bay of Quinte region is set to be home to several extravagant events and festivals throughout the rest of the summer. With close to 3,000 attendees throughout the event, Belleville City Councillor and Festival Committee Member Sean Kelly says the City is always looking to celebrate its diversity.
“This is really important because it brings our Caribbean community together, it’s more welcoming for the city, it’s a celebration for all walks of life and you know to celebrate the music and the food, and the cultural diversity, everything, with the city was a really exciting way to spend Saturday.”
Kelly says the City is looking forward one upping themselves and will be working together to bring even more excitement to Belleville’s future Caribbean Festivals, “Like I said, it was our first time, and we didn’t know what to expect, and we all learned from our first time. Now we’re excited to bring it back in 2023 and go from there,” which can only mean more laughs, good food and good music for those in the Bay of Quinte.
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