This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever ReggaeFest here in Calgary. As a past resident of Toronto, Ontario and avid Caribana attendee, I was more than thrilled to find a festival in my new city that celebrated the Caribbean culture. I came into the event with pretty high expectations of Caribana-like atmospheres and I was not at all disappointed! Even on a slightly chilly, overcast afternoon, it was still impossible to overlook the genuine energy and vibrancy that came along with the festival.
Like proud, age old Calgarians, all the attendees simply pulled out their umbrellas and extra coats that we all carry around in the back seat of our cars (due to the fact that Calgary weather can sometimes walk the thin line between temperamental and puzzling) and enjoyed the festivities nonetheless. I was transported straight to the islands, greeted warmly be all around me and felt a sense of community as we all jived together to the sweet performances that were part of the festival’s line up.
Despite having to throw emergency tarps on their kiosks, retailers opened their doors wide and greeted eager collectors and cultural enthusiasts alike. It was amazing to see the different representation of this vibrant culture and share in conversations with members of the community. These conversations were at the heart of my experience and is the reason why I think ths festival should be on every Calgarian’s summer to do list. Being a part of the growing community was soul warming to see as the festival progressed and, of course, it didn’t hurt that I go to do a little shopping as well!
The performers amped up the energy at the event by bring sounds of the islands to the stage. The headliners for the festival were amazing and played a wide varity of Reggae music. Hearing musicisians from across Canada and the globe come together to celebrate Reggae was awe inspiring and brought some sunshine into the overcast day. The energy was infectious and it took no time at all for everyone in attendance to get up on their feet and bounce along to the tunes. The weather might have been in the single digits but we all had a little sweat on our brow from all the jumping and singing along during the performances.
Here is Gisto, one of the first performers of the afternoon, getting the crowd ready for a Reggae filled day
My first experience at Calgary's ReggaeFest was more than I could have asked for. Despite the less than favourable weather, the event ran without a hitch. The volunteers were knowledgeable, the vendors were welcoming, the performers were energetic and the environment was nothing short of vibrant. I enjoyed being able to be a part of an event that tapped into my memories but also allowed me the space to create new ones. It was amazing to get a chance to speak with attendees who had been coming to ReggaeFest for years, and to hear how important this outward representation of culture was so critical to the community we live in.
There is no doubt that I will be attending this festival again next year, and I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of such an enriching experience!