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Saturday October 25th 2014

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Jamaica Comes To Pensacola For This Year’s Jamaican Festival
By Jennie McKeon

It’s time to dust off your Bob Marley records, put your hair in dreadlocks and spread peace and love at the Jamaican Festival on Pensacola Beach.

Jamaican Fest will be held from Friday, Sept. 3 to Sunday, Sept. 5. The festival will include music, sidewalk merchants and food.

“The overall purpose of Jamaican Fest is to create a fun family environment event for the betterment of the whole community,” said Robert Gleim, general manager of Bamboo Willies, in an e-mail interview. “Come by car or boat.”

Perhaps the biggest event of the festival will be the “Anything that Floats” race. The Jamaican Fest was created in 2004 in order to make a whole weekend out of the race.

“I started the race in 1998,” Gleim said. “The concept was for people to make their own floats/tub-like vessels to race for bragging rights. We also have prizes for best costume and best sinker. It is too funny.”

The race entry fee is $30, which all goes to the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce, one of the many sponsors of the Jamaican Fest.

“This is one of the biggest fundraisers for the year and fun for the family,” Gleim added.

If you’re not into floating in a tub, there will be plenty of music to jam out to—all reggae and island-inspired. One Jamaican Fest regular is the band Vibe Irie; you can check them out Sunday, Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. on the Bamboo Willies stage. With reggae-inspired music blended in with funk, rock and hip-hop, the local favorite was an obvious choice for the festival.

“Being a reggae band, we love to do anything with an island theme,” said Justin Smegelski of Vibe Irie in an e-mail interview. “I’m very passionate about bringing more reggae music to the area. I hope the message of music inspires positivity in people’s lives.”

Another band familiar to the festival is Three Amigos Duo. You may have seen them live at Peg Leg Pete’s, Helen Back Café or Bamboo Willies. Three Amigos Duo will be playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “We are entertainers as well as musicians,” said Raul Ramirez, guitarist and vocalist for Three Amigos Duo, in an e-mail interview. “We love the crowd and hope they have a good time.”

The Jamaican Fest lineup won’t be just local acts. The Reggae Vibes Band will be coming all the way from Ohio to bring their message of non-violence to the beach. The band has played in Japan, England and even Jamaica. They have also played in Panama City, Pensacola and Destin, but will be first-timers at the Jamaican Fest.

“It will be really nice to return to the area,” said manager of The Reggae Vibes Band, Patricia Young. “We planned on being in the area in June and July but couldn’t because of the oil spill. This area was always in our prayers.”

The Reggae Vibes Band has been together for over 15 years. Young and her husband Ulysses, who is the trombonist and leader of the band, have been married for almost 30 years. When it comes to peace and love, these people are experts.

“We have a respect and love for each other,” said Ulysses Young. “We have a terrific brotherhood.”

The message of love and brotherhood is also spread through “We Talk Music,” a student violence prevention program created by Patricia Young. Using music, children learn the consequences of violent behavior, how to respect one another and how to learn more responsibility. The overall message is “Peace and Unity.” While on tour, it’s the band’s responsibility to promote the message of “We Talk Music.”

“We always bring awareness to the program,” said Ulysses.

The Reggae Vibes Band will be playing Friday, Sept. 3 at 9 p.m., and again on Saturday, Sept. 4 at noon. The band will have their newest CD, “Chop Off the Boy Dem,” available to sell.

“We really look forward to playing for people who embrace reggae music,” Ulysses added. “Reggae really does bring a positive vibration. If you were to categorize it in one word, it would be ‘love.’”

info@inweekly.net

JAMAICAN FESTIVAL
WHEN: Begins at 4 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3-5
WHERE: Pensacola Beach Boardwalk, 400 Quietwater Beach Road
COST: Free
DETAILS: bamboowillies.com

“ANYTHING THAT FLOATS” RACE
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5
WHERE: Bamboo Willies, 400 Quietwater Beach Road
COST: $30 for two-person team
DETAILS: Call 932-1500 to register with the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce

THE REGGAE VIBES BAND
WHEN: 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3 and 12 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4
WHERE: Bamboo Willies, 400 Quietwater Beach Road
COST: Free
DETAILS: thereggaevibesband.com