Sumfest in high gear

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter

Friday, July 20, 2018

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DownSound Entertainment, organisers of Reggae Sumfest, is predicting another great year for the annual show which gets into full swing today with the first of two live nights.

The festival officially got under way on Sunday. For the past five days, there have been a number of lead-up events, which DownSound boss Joe Bogdanovich says have gone extremely well. It is a trend indicative of what is to come today and Saturday when the action moves to Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay.

“We kicked off on Sunday with the beach party and that was a lot of fun. Monday's street dance was just overwhelming and we saw thousands of party people filling the park. The all-white party at Pier 1 was also great. That venue was extended and so could accommodate more patrons,” he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Splash magazine. “What we noticed is how Reggae Sumfest is becoming that international festival we want it to be. At these events we are seeing a lot of international guests. About 60 to 65 per cent of the patrons were international with locals making up the remainder. So, this looks good for Sumfest in general. All the satellite events surpassed our expectations.”

Wednesday's event, Blitz — The All-Black Event, suffered a setback when featured act, British rapper and singer Steflon Don, withdrew due to scheduling conflicts. Bogdanovich said she was replaced by rising starlet Jada Kingdom, whom he described as having “a bright future”.

Bogdanovich is upbeat about this weekend.

“The place is gonna look like Times Square. Stage, lighting and sound are in place... everything is in order. We are setting international standards for ourselves and our patrons will see it once they step into the venue. Tickets are sold-out for the Ultra VIP. There are still tickets available for VIP and General, but all sales are going very well,” he said.

The Zone Of Special Operations launched in St James by the Government last September to fight crime in that parish is still in force. But Bogdanovich insists security operations in Montego Bay will not hamper the festival, and is of the opinion that the presence of security forces will enhance safety .

“There is no question that Montego Bay is safe. We saw it in the park on Monday and there was no incident. So we are very confident because people are feeling more confident and more people are realising that something has to be done to bring down the level of crime in the country. We are seeing that in Montego Bay,” he said.

Friday's line-up includes Popcaan, Aidonia, Bounty Killer, Sizzla, Spice, Tommy Lee Sparta, Masicka, Ding Dong, as well as African artiste Stone Bwoy. The final night is headlined by Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Beres Hammond, Maxi Priest; it also features Cham, Jesse Royal, and American reggae act J Boog.

The festival ends on Sunday morning with a breakfast party at Dump Up Beach in Montego Bay.

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