JAMS Festival will celebrate its 22nd anniversary next month

JAMS Festival will celebrate its 22nd anniversary next month
Jamaica Jams is a 10-block street fair with musical performances that takes place in Jamaica the first weekend of every August.
By Naeisha Rose

Every year on the first Saturday in August 10 blocks in Jamaica are dedicated to ethnic food, multicultural music, kids’ games nand shopping for the Jamaica Arts & Music Summer Festival.

On Aug. 4, the 22nd annual JAMS Festival will stretch from Parsons Boulevard to 170th Street on Jamaica Avenue, according to Executive Director Tyra Emerson of the Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, a community and economic development organization for southeast Queens. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There will be Caribbean, Latin, Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, and health foods at the event, Emerson said. Expect typical festival food, too.

“There will be jerk chicken, sorrel drink, desserts from different countries, and there’s this homemade ice cream vendor this year from Harlem who will be there,” said Emerson. “There will be regular festival things, too, like a gyro and giant hot dogs.”

The event will have a global vibe with music from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, but will feature American pop, rap, R&B, and neo-soul songs and much more, according to Emerson.

“I call it world music,” she said.

Hosting and performing for the 10th time this year is Craig Crawford, a three-time nominee for the gospel Stellar Awards.

“There will be a lot of music representing the makeup of Jamaica,” said Crawford. “There will be music from Bangladesh and Haiti, and a lot more.”

Crawford himself will be playing a combination of Jazz, gospel, and R&B, said the artist.

“One of my favorite songs is a song that I wrote called ‘Forgiven,’” said Crawford, who cannot wait to perform it with his group, the Craig Crawford Players.

The night before the festival there will be a kickoff event at Rufus King Park called JAMS Under the Stars on Aug. 3 at 6 p.m., according to Emerson. The park is located on Jamaica Avenue between 150th and 153rd streets and will for the first time ever feature an all women lineup of performers in comedy, spoken word, jazz, R&B and dance.

“It’s a kickoff event to get everybody in the mood for the next day and tell them what’s going on and who is coming,” said Emerson. “It’s also a way to engage our seniors since some of them won’t come to a festival-type thing, but they would come to a concert setting.”

At the concert series there will be Southern cuisine for the guests. There will also be a play mobile featuring board games, hula-hoops, arts and crafts, as well as soccer balls and basketballs.

“The Department of Parks and Recreation will have a play mobile out there and crafts for the kids for them to play with as we wait for the performance to start,” said Emerson. “It is a mobile unit that has games in it.”

For the main event there will be a kids’ block that has rock climbing and a bouncy house.

The 10-block commercial strip will feature a lot of vendors and plenty to see, including classic cars from the 1950s.

“There will be clothes vendors, jewelry vendors – a person from Morocco will bring authentic trinkets and there will be African art and clothing,” Emerson said. “There will be face painters and custom art designs for T-shirts. Healthfirst, Americgroup and Jamaica Hospital will also do free health screenings.”

“Bellitte Bicycles will be there, too, and they have been on Jamaica Avenue for 100 years,” said Emerson.

Bellitte Bicycles is a fourth-generation, family-run cycling institution that offers name brand bikes and does special orders, according to Melissa Bellitte.

“We love getting the support from the JAMS Festival and the locals,” said Bellittee. “We are really proud of our community and we wouldn’t be here for 100 years without their support and our employees who work hard.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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