Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Freeport, The Bahamas - By Cleopatra Murphy

Freeport News Reporter

Residents and tourists alike will have another entertainment option available to them when the Downtown International Food and Cultural Festival begins on June 17.

The two-day festival that carries over until June 18 is a joint effort by several corporate partners to revitalize the downtown area and provide more variety in the activities available on Grand Bahama.

"We realize that cities all over the world have begun festivals and downtowns have become the nucleus for such events that feature arts, cuisine and culture so this is the type of activity we wanted to bring to the downtown Freeport area," Nikira Wilchcombe, chairperson for the Downtown International Food and Cultural Festival said.

She shared that the Downtown International Food and Cultural Festival will boast a variety of cuisines, entertainment and cultures to see, noting that craft vendors from The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) will also participate.

Wilchcombe said that the purpose of the festival is to highlight community members who come from different backgrounds and cultures.

"We know that Grand Bahama has been pegged as the island with nothing much to do and so it is our desire to assist in rebranding us as the island where there is lots to do," she said. "We hope that with the promotion of this event and other events that are being held in June that the city of Freeport and the island at large can become alive."

Although this is the first year for the festival, she noted that there are plans to make it an annual event.

"Festivals are being held everywhere so we want to really start to have that type of atmosphere on the island and in this area in particular," Wilchcombe said.

She supplied that the festival will be launched with an opening ceremony, a motorcade and a parade of flags.

The event, she said would be full of entertainment and fun for the family.

Betty Bethel, general manager of business development for the Ministry of Tourism added that the ministry is involved with this latest initiative because of its continued effort to improve the visitor experience.

"We are constantly searching new tours and activities so that our guests can always walk away with a wow experience from Grand Bahama island, so we are really pleased to be a part of this effort and we applaud the Grand Bahama Port Authority and it's corporate partners in bringing to downtown a new experience for our visitors," she said.

Bethel added that the turnaround to the downtown area and the addition of the festival would add to the tourist experience.

"Having this cultural festival will broaden the cultural element of Grand Bahama island in not just what we do out on the beach and in the Port Lucaya Marketplace area," she said.

Bethel said Grand Bahama is promoted as a holistic experience and the new event will add to that.

"With the cultural festival and the downtown turnaround, we now can indeed say that there are numerous things to do on Grand Bahama island," she said.

"The ministry is proud to be a partner with the port and we are proud to have one more venue to place on the calendar of events in the downtown cultural festival."

Ian Thompson, manager of retail sales at the Bank of The Bahamas noted that the bank was pleased to be a part of a venture that would help the island's economy.

"It's a way for the Bank of The Bahamas to reconnect with Freeport and I am happy that we are the first in this initiative that you are bringing to Freeport as a way to stimulate economic growth and we are just happy to be a part of the transition of Freeport," he said.

The Grand Bahama Power Company and the Downtown Business Association are also principal partners helping to get the festival launched.

Vendors interested in securing booths for the festival can reach the organizing committee at 350-9007.
Fun for the entire family.

Admission is free!

June 17, 2011 – 3pm – 10pm

June 18, 2011 – 1pm – 10pm

Contact: 242-350-9164 for more details.

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