Festival highlights Jamaican culture

August 18, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

The Jamaican Citizens of Washington County bring their annual Jamaican Festival to Wheaton Park, Saturday, Aug. 20.

The festival will provide a slice of Jamaican culture while raising money for the Memorial Recreation Center on West North Avenue.

"It's just a laid-back day," says event coordinator Alesia Parson-McBean. "It's a day for people to sit back and see what that culture is like."

This is the sixth year the Jamaican Citizens group has partnered with the Memorial Recreation Center to put on a day of Jamaican food, music and cultural sharing. The Community Focus Group, which supports the recreation center, is co-sponsoring the event.


While there are less than a dozen Jamaican citizens living in Washington County, Parson-McBean, a City of Hagerstown councilwoman, says their culture is a "close-knit" one. Jamaican citizens from the region will likely come to take part at the Saturday event.

While the Jamaican Festival has been enjoyed by hundreds each year for its cultural flavors, the event has been a crucial fundraiser for the Memorial Recreation Center.

Parson-McBean says the Jamaican community came forward to help when the center was in a dire financial pinch in 1999. The center still does not have enough of an operating budget to offer as many classes and programs as it once did, but organizers are hoping to get back on track.

"We're hoping for great things, because (the Memorial Recreation Center) is a stronghold in this community," Parson-McBean says. "I'm a product of the center. It stands for supporting the youth and families of the northwest region of Hagerstown."

The Jamaican Festival will include information about the health, social service and mental health programs that are available to people who need them, Parson-McBean says. Also there will be food for sale, vendors, music and a 50/50 raffle. Jamaican food offerings include oxtails, red beans and chicken, curry chicken and curry goat, collard greens and jerk chicken and pork.

On Friday, Aug. 19, the Memorial Recreation Center, Jamaican Citizens of Washington County and the Community Focus Group will hold a Two-on-Two Scramble Golf fundraiser. Registration is at 7 a.m. at the Black Rock Golf Course on Mount Aetna Road. Eighteen holes of golf, lunch and prizes costs $75 per person. There will be prizes for longest drive, closest-to-the-pin, and a car for a hole-in-one shot.

If you go ...

WHAT: The sixth annual Jamaican Festival

WHEN: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20

WHERE: Wheaton Park off Sumans Avenue, Hagerstown

COST: Free

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