JerkFest returns to the live stage with Destra in the lineup

The annual event to benefit three charities

By Lincoln DePradine


JerkFest, which returned to live audience performances in 2022 after a couple years of cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has always included a component of giving back.

It has involved the awarding of scholarships, international donations and supporting local food banks, including $10,000 and food donations last year to Afri-Can and Regeneration MarketPlace. “Both charities will again be receiving donations this year during the customer-appreciation initiative that lowers the entry price with a donation of canned goods or non-perishable food,’’ said a JerkFest spokesperson.

Toronto Dominion Bank, through its “Ready Commitment’’ program, is the presenting sponsor of JerkFest, which is receiving other private and public sector support.

“TD is proud to help create shared experiences that can bring people together through a love of music. Across the country, we aspire to help foster a sense of belonging for people, from diverse backgrounds, who work to contribute to the fabric of Canada where we live, work, and play,’’ said Robyn Small, a TD Bank senior manager.

Each year, thousands attend JerkFest. The event celebrates jerk cuisine and is headlined by Caribbean and international world-class musical performers.

“TD JerkFest is always a great weekend of fun, while also giving back to those in need,’’ said Plummer.


This year’s headline acts – multi-platinum selling R&B artiste Johnny Gill; Jamaican Roots Reggae legend Luciano; and Trinidad soca superstar Destra – will meet and greet fans at a JerkFest boat cruise on August 10.

Gill, a Grammy-nominated singer who has been in the entertainment business for more than 40 years, is the former frontman of the now-iconic “New Edition’’ boy-band. He’s the featured act on JerkFest Friday, August 11.

“All I can say is I still have a passion for music. And there’s still a platform out here for me to express myself and inspire people in a world that still needs a lot of work,’’ said Gill, who has had hits on the top 10 R&B charts for three decades, beginning in the 1980s to the 2000s.

For the Saturday and Sunday Caribbean Nights at JerkFest, patrons would get to enjoy Luciano – also known as “The Messenjah” – and Destra, popularly referred to as soca’s “Queen of Bacchanal’’.

“We’re extremely excited about this year’s TD JerkFest lineup! There is something for everyone,’’ said organizer Plummer of Caribbean Promotions. “Bring your family to Centennial Park and enjoy Caribbean culture, without having to book a flight and pack a suitcase. The festival is always a great time to celebrate Caribbean culture, and is also an opportunity for us to give back.’’

In addition for its support of Afri-Can and Regeneration MarketPlace,  JerkFest has announced that Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) will be a new beneficiary of proceeds from this

Johnny Gill

year’s event.

“We are looking forward to supporting our new charity initiative, Helping Hands Jamaica, to educate the next generation of children in Jamaica by helping to build a brand new school,’’ said Anthony Plummer, founder and executive director of Caribbean Promotions Arts and Culture Inc. 

HHJF’s mission is to enhance “the lives of the next generation of children, young adults and their communities, by creating a world-class education system through investment in infrastructure, health, wellness and leadership’’.

Other than building schools, the foundation says it also has assisted “significantly’’ in raising the literacy rate and in educating more than 10,000 students.

JerkFest 2023 is August 11-13 at Centennial Park, Etobicoke, 256 Centennial Park Road. “Patrons who donate $20 or more will get a tax receipt,’’ said Plummer. “We are encouraging everyone to go to our website and donate.’’