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It was a good time, mon

August 24, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

There were license plates from several surrounding states at the Jamaican Food and Music Festival in Hagerstown's Wheaton Park on Saturday, but organizer Alesia Parson said that isn't unusual.

"The Jamaican community will travel wherever it has to for events like this," Parson said in the waning hours of the event.

A core group of about 50 Jamaicans in Hagerstown planned the fourth annual event along with the Memorial Recreation Center to draw fellow islanders from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The goal was to share their culture with others in a safe and friendly environment.

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The music was Jamaican and the food was decidedly island fare. There was curried chicken, red beans and rice, ox tails and curried goat mixed in with hamburgers and hot dogs.

"Everybody ran out of food except one vendor with jerked chicken. He does this for a living so he always knows to bring a lot," Parson said.

She estimated about 500 people came to the event. That didn't take into account the neighbors who came out on their porches and front yards to enjoy the sights and sounds.

"I like the diversity of an event like this," said Sandra Monroe of Hagerstown. "No one is turned down or turned away."

Monroe, 62, said she has always liked Jamaican music, especially when it gives people an excuse to come together with friends and neighbors.

"I came early but I had to go home and rest up so I could come back," Monroe said.

The afternoon got off to a thunderous start with a religious program featuring Pastor Victor Fowlkes, a number of other pastors and praise teams from Gateway Ministries, Campher Memorial King's Holiness Church and the Jonathan Street House of Prayer.

The DJ for the more secular activities was David Lee from Chambersburg, Pa.

Brothers United Who Dare To Care were in attendance, as were representatives from Mental Health of Western Maryland and the Washington County Health Department.

Prizes donated by local merchants were given away during the festival.

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