Jamaican Festival raises money for youth programs

August 25, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

Godfrey McBean starts marinating the goat meat with garlic and thyme the night before he cooks it to give the seasonings plenty of time to infuse the meat.

He started cooking Saturday morning, and by noon the meat was ready to be served at the third annual Jamaican Festival in Hagerstown.

McBean, 47, of Smithsburg, was born in Jamaica and moved to the United States when he was 21, looking to grab a piece of the American Dream.


A few years ago, he and some of his friends in the local Jamaican community decided to lend their cooking talents to a festival.

All the money they raise from the event benefits Memorial Recreation Center in Hagerstown, which provides after-school and summer programs for children ages 5 to 18.

Although his own children are grown, McBean said he enjoys helping the new generation.

"It's a good feeling. All those kids out there, that's what it's all about," he said.

An estimated 250 people stopped by the festival, held from noon to 6 p.m. at Wheaton Park, said Ruth Monroe, Memorial Recreation Center's executive director.

"It's been a lovely day," she said.

The group did not have an estimate on how much they raised. Their goal was $1,000.

"Every little bit helps," Monroe said.

A DJ spun reggae tunes for the small crowd.

Other Jamaican specialties on the menu included curried chicken and ox tail.

As for the goat, McBean said he buys the meat already processed from a local farmer. In keeping with Jamaican tradition, they eat only the Billy goat. The females aren't slain because they're needed for reproduction, he said.

People who went to the festival said they enjoyed the food and the chance for the community to get together.

"It helps to bring to the surface the culture of some members of this community," said Andy Smith, president of Brothers United Who Dare to Care.

Smith said he hopes the event will grow larger, into a festival that celebrates all kinds of African-American heritage.

Tracey Brown, vice president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, handed out voter registration applications. Although it's too late register for the Sept. 10 primary, people can still register for the Nov. 5 general election.

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