Goombay Summer — it’s a feeling
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: Aug 09, 2013
There’s a Black Eyed Peas song that goes “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night; That tonight’s gonna be a good good night.” And I’m kinda getting that feeling, because it’s the first Friday of three consecutive Fridays during which the Ministry of Tourism will host the Goombay Summer Festival — a festival people flocked to in the 1970s and early 80s — because of that “feeling” they got when the festival was in its heyday. It’s a feeling that authorities hope they can inculcate in a new generation as they try to revive that once popular summer festival under the Goombay brand.
The Goombay Summer Festival that opens today, for a three-Friday run (August 9, 16 and 23) at Pompey Square and Woodes Rodgers Wharf will showcase music, cuisine and craft. It is a rebrand of the Goombay Summer Festival that was originally launched in 1974 and was a must-attend event for locals and tourists alike, until it unfortunately met its demise.
In its wake came festivals like Junkanoo in June and the Junkanoo Summer Festival, but recognizing that there was a certain “feeling” that was evoked in people during the Goombay Summer Festival, and the fact that the name was more inclusive of all things Bahamian, the tourism ministry decided to go back to the roots of the festival and the Goombay Summer Festival was re-birthed last year, to incorporate the flavors of the Goombay Festivals of yesteryear — drummers, dancers, jumping dance in the street, rake and scrape music and steel pan, ring play, quadrille and story-telling.
“Goombay is a feeling you get deep down in your soul,” said Ministry of Tourism director of events, Charity Armbrister. “It’s different from Junkanoo, and so the focus of Goombay is that beat of the goatskin drum and we’re hoping to recreate that feeling. Back in the day you had to go to Goombay, and we would like to see that again, and this is why we’re trying to revisit most of the things we did in the past with the traditional drummers and that Goombay beat.”
The cultural festival will showcase music, cuisine and craft from 10 a.m. to 10:45 p.m., for the next three Fridays with a little of everything, from deejays spinning rake and scrape music to steel pan performances and a fashion show during which the designs of a local Bahamian designer will be featured along with Bahama Handprint, Batik and Androsia designer clothing.
No celebration would be complete if the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marching Band did not show up. And of course, Goombay Summer would not be a festival if Goombay dancers did not take to the streets to show how it’s done, and bring a little ring play fun into it. A limbo showcase and a Junkanoo rush-out rounds out the event.
While the visitors at the tourists and the cruise ships coming in have all been targeted to attend the Goombay Summer Festival to allow them to get an all-inclusive taste of The Bahamas at one spot, Armbrister said they are also encouraging Bahamians to attend and experience the once famous festival which has a sound that’s heavy on the goatskin drums.
And again being homage to that Black Eyed Pea song “Let’s live it up; I got my money; Let’s spend it up,” there will be lots of things that people can spend money on from native cuisine including a stall focusing on all things crab, a young man who will be squeezing sugar cane and making his sugar cane juices on the spot, and all the conch and fish people can eat; to the authentically Bahamian arts and crafts.
According to Armbrister the event will be interactive with prizes to be won by people giving correct answers to questions asked throughout the day. They will even give generic questions that visitors can answer to see how much they know about The Bahamas.
Last year was the official launch of the Goombay Summer Festival, but the weather did not cooperate on most of the nights. This year Armbrister is hoping it will. From the lineup and what the entertainers will be doing she says they believe they can recreate that Goombay experience and feeling of the 1970s.
10 a.m. — DJ CRX (Rake n’ Scrape)
12:15 p.m. — Steel pans by Koe Smith’s Trio
1 p.m. — Rhythm and Muse Band (Mr. Adam’s Children’s Choir)
2 p.m. — Bahamian fashion showcase — Fashions by Kedar, Bahama Handprint and Androsia
3 p.m. — Royal Bahamas Police Force Marching Band
3:30 p.m. — Goombay dancers and ring play
5 p.m. — Limbo performance (Action Jackson)
6 p.m. — Goombay and Obeah dancer (Metullus Chipman)
7 p.m. — Goombay street dancers/rush out (Mitzie Chipman & Friends)
7:45 p.m. — Opening ceremony
8 p.m. - 10 p.m. — Ira Storr & The Spank Band featuring Veronica Bishop
10 p.m. – 10:45 p.m. — Junkanoo rushout