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Jamaica Independence Festival: Let freedom sing

The United States may be known for exploding flashy fireworks on the Fourth of July, but in Jamaica, people celebrate their independence for a whole week.

"You have parties, church services. You have shows. It's an entire time of festivities in Jamaica," says Jean Pryce, a native of the island nation and vice president of the United Sports and Social Club in West Palm Beach.

Jamaica's Independence Day is Aug. 6. The date is close to Emancipation Day, which commemorates the end of slavery in the British Empire, on Aug. 1, one of the reasons for the extended celebration.

Pryce and other members of the United Sports and Social Club wanted to bring some of that fun to South Florida for at least one day. The 14thedition of the local Jamaica Independence Festival will take place Sunday, Aug. 3, at Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach.

The event will feature beer-drinking, bun-eating and dance competitions. There will be plenty of Jamaican food and live performances by Jamaican artists, including reggae and ska singers Ken Boothe and Admiral Tibet.

"It's a family fun day, with entertainment highlighting some of the cultural aspects of Jamaica," Pryce says.

Jamaica Independence Festival will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3, at 104 Datura St., in West Palm Beach. Admission is $15, and free for children 10 or younger. Call 561-312-5972 or visit, @babicorb or 954-356-4710

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