Niagara Falls getting ready to jump up to a Caribbean beat


By Stephen Weir

While Torontonians have already put away their carnival costumes for another year, in Niagara Falls the Caribana “schooling” is just about to begin.

Tomorrow morning the musical group, Kobo Town, a fleet of food trucks and a busload of mas’ veterans will be heading down the QEW to a famous Niagara Falls park to teach tourists how to jump up and get down to the sounds of carnival .

The Niagara Caribbean Festival, a weekend celebration of Caribbean music, dance, and Carnival mas’ costumes, starts at 3 p.m. on Friday August  and continues till Sunday.

This year’s free festival, starring a pair of Juno Award winning musical acts and the Canadian Calypso Monarch will be held in the Queen Victoria Park directly opposite the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

This is the third year that the Toronto based Caribbean Community Engagement (CCE) company  – in partnership with the Niagara Parks Commission – is holding a Caribana inspired festival. The CEE is headed up by Yvette Martin, a longtime Toronto stage manager for theatre, festivals (including Caribana) and concerts across the country.

“This is a fun fun weekend in a community that is new to the idea of having an all-in-Caribbean experience,” Yvette Martin told the Caribbean Camera.  “ It features family-friendly programming, tons of island cuisine and a wealth of entertainment including Kobo Town, Korexion, Canadian Calypso Monarch Joel Davis (Connector), and popular reggae singer Monty Hama.

” We are also bringing models, of course in   carnival costumes to let the people of the Niagara Region take pictures and learn how to play mas’ ”

“  The festival, including the music concert, is all out-doors. People can bring lawn chairs or blankets to lie on the grass, and take in the shows,” said Martin. “ There is ample parking nearby to park.  Torontonians don’t have to drive, Go Trains run regularly to the city and link seamlessly with local transit to the park by the Falls.”

The festival ends with a fireworks over the Falls, starting at 10 p.m. on Saturday.

There will be vendors and food trucks serving Caribbean style food throughout the festival.

Originally from Trench Town  in Jamaica, Canadian Juno award winning reggae singer Korexion will be the Friday night headliner.

Kobo Town, another Juno-nominated Canadian Caribbean music group, led by Trinidadian Canadian singer and songwriter Drew Gonsalves,  along with Dahlia, Niagara Falls reggae princess, will be onstage on Saturday night.

Reggae artist Monty Hama closes out the weekend, performing on Sunday afternoon.

“ Calypsonian Connector will perform all three days, along with  many other artistes,” said Martin. “