07CaribbeanFest

The Caribbean American Connection of Fayetteville, North Carolina, is a nonprofit organization that started 10 years ago. It is known for the Caribbean Festival it hosts every year. 

This year marks the seventh annual Caribbean Festival. The festival started in local recreation centers, but over the years it has grown rapidly. The event takes place in Festival Park on June 25, from noon to 8 p.m. 

The grounds will be filled with music, dancing and 21 vendors selling everything from food to merchandise. 

Most participants will be representing Caribbean culture, but there will also be local groups participating. 

For example, there will be a mobile truck providing free dental screenings. Don’t miss the Parade of Nations that will be taking place at 5:30 p.m. on the main stage in Festival Park. 

Another highlight of the festival every year is the musicians and artists.  There is a mix of local performers and performers brought in specifically for this event. Nina George, the organization’s secretary, said this is her favorite part of the festival every year. 

“There is music and dancing all day long. We have a live DJ who plays between performances and is in charge of the mood for the entire festival. It is what the Caribbean is known for,” George said. 

Even coordinator Sheron Baker, however, thinks the authentic food vendors are the best part. 

“We are a nonprofit designed to get Caribbean natives involved with their home islands while in the states,” Baker said. “There are a lot of Caribbean natives here in Fayetteville, especially because of Fort Bragg.” 

The Caribbean American Connection of Fayetteville’s charity work expresses the duality of identity that many members feel. They do a lot of work to support the local community, but they also work to support the communities on their home Islands. 

According to George, they have reached out and continue to reach out to the Caribbean by supporting relief efforts after the Haiti Earthquake, adopting an elementary school and sending Christmas angel gifts every year. 

A lot of the work that the group does focuses on children. This is true of this family-friendly festival as well. 

“There are lots of activities for kids. We play games that we play in the Caribbean; some are similar to what we play in the states like relay games and sack racing. We will give prizes after the games and this year we will have an arts and crafts project. Kids can make and then take home a flag as sort of a gift,” George said. 

George believes that engaging children with events like this is vital. “Our group is a nonprofit, and we do a lot of social events to bring the culture here and allow children to experience their heritage,” she said. 

While the organization is primarily focused on involving Caribbean natives, the festival and the group’s other events are open to the entire
community. 

Everyone is welcome to come learn about end enjoy Caribbean culture. For more information, call (910) 261-6910.

Photo: This year marks the seventh annual Caribbean Festival.

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