This year's Miami Reggae Festival was definitely an event to remember. Everything from the music to the food to the atmosphere was incredible. The camaraderie of the patrons, hailing from a plethora of nations in the Caribbean and beyond, was a sight to see. All of which came in support of the birth of a nation, it's rich musical history as well as one of its founding principles "Out of Many, One People". The 2021 Miami Reggae Festival presented by Rockers Movement was a great way to commemorate all of the legends of Reggae music as well as highlight the overall message of the music itself; the unifying principle of "One Love". Such a wonderful event to celebrate Jamaica's Independence.
From the minute you step foot into the parking lot you start feeling the energy of the event. The roar of the music permeated deeply throughout the entire Miami-Hialeah Flea Market. As you tread closer to the entrance you begin to hear patrons serenading one another to the soothing hits of various reggae icons such as Garnett Silk, Buju Banton and Bob Marley. The smell of various West Indian delicacies captivate your senses drawing you in even closer. Upon entry, you are greeted by a wide assortment of local vendors in attendance to partake in the festivities. Everything from artists, to restaurants, to family-friendly entertainment came out to show the public what they had to offer.
At the center of it all sat the colossal stage from which songs of freedom, liberation and unity rang everso eloquently. Pan-Africanist poet/artist Mutabaruka moderated the event with pure roots and. culture. He entertained the crowd with jokes and stories about the good 'ol days and how reggae music evolved over time. He also introduced the various sound system DJ's including Stone Love, King Waggy Tee, Overproof Movements and many more that took to the stage spinning their remixes on reggae classics. Music that invokes peace and love as well as liberation within the community. All in ode to the primary objective of the event itself, "healing the community with sound system culture".
A few local artists gave live performances showcasing their talent. One in particular is Trinidadian artist/singer "Shelly Sweetshells". Blazing the stage with tracks about faith, perseverance and joy, Shelly electrified the audience setting the tone for what was destined to be a great event. She performed her hit song "Praises" reminding everyone of the importance of gratitude and giving thanks for even the smallest of blessings. Highlighting the many struggles Jamaicans, as well as Afro-diasporic communities at large, have overcome throughout history. The sacrifices their ancestors made in resistance to colonial rule deserve the highest levels of honor, appreciation and reverence.
The entertainment wasn't the only extraordinary component of the reggae festival, the food was remarkable as well. The venue offered a taste of the West Indian collective with dishes from virtually every Caribbean nation imaginable. Among them was Barbadian chef and restaurateur Trevon Stoute. Offering traditional delicacies with a twist like coconut curry chicken and roasted corn & tomato succotash served over steamed rice or roasted potatoes. Paired with an ice cold beer or glass of rum punch; it made for the perfect accompaniment to the easygoing reggae vibes.
All in all, the 2021 Miami Reggae Festival was an incredible event for the veneration of reggae culture. The mesmerizing effects of reggae music were definitely on full display. The camaraderie it created amongst the patrons contributed greatly to the overall spirit of the event. Such a splendid occasion to rejoice with people from all over the world. An occasion to be memorialized for many years to come.