Jamaica, New Orleans team up for international festival

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The 'Big Easy' has teamed up with the 'Rock' to bring a new kind of festival to the world.
Jamaica and the devastated city of New Orleans will stage the first annual Jamaica/New Orleans Music and Food Festival on November 4 to 5 in Montego Bay, St. James. Plans for the festival were well advanced before the monster hurricane decimated the city last month, and part proceeds will be given to the American New Orleans fund to develop music and culture.

Dubbed the 'Rhythm and Spice Fest', it is the city's first international event since its highly publicized crisis and will be a joint effort with Jamaica to lay the foundations for further trade development and co-operation.

Horace Peterkin, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA) and Co-Executive Producer of the festival, made the announcement at a press conference at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay on Wednesday, September 28th.

"The festival is a public/private sector initiative that will feature the finest music, food and hospitality," Mr. Peterkin said. "Festivals are a very good niche market we are the ideal location, being close to North America and having the musicians and facilities."

Ernest Collins, Director of Arts and Entertainment in the Office of the Mayor of New Orleans declared that the "event is much more than a festival...there is a lot of growth potential and we see the festival in the context of economic development."

Planning for the festival was far advanced when disaster struck earlier this month with Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Collins said that it is now imperative that these plans materialize, so that both parties can chart a course for future development.

"To do this festival and to do it with a new mission and an urgency and a bigger cause, is a wonderful opportunity. We look forward to doing this and we are thankful for the support from the Jamaican Government," Mr. Collins said.

The event, which is endorsed by New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, will be an exciting two-day carnival of music, food and fashion featuring chefs, musicians and fashion models from Jamaica and New Orleans. Listed venues include Margaritaville, the Montego Bay Cruise Shipping Pier and The Doctors Cave Beach.

Proceeds of the festival will also go to the AIDS Hospice in Montego Bay.

Plans for the twinning of Montego Bay and New Orleans are also underway with the ceremony set for November.