The Caribbean spirit is coming to Coquitlam this summer.
The two-day Caribbean Days Festival — the largest of its kind in the province — is moving to Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park after 32 years in North Vancouver.
Marilyn Perrin, a native of Trinidad and the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Society of BC, told the city’s council-in-committee on Monday (May 16) the event had outgrown its now former facility site to accommodate the 40,000-plus visitors.
As well, Town Centre Park was promoted by the society secretary, who lives in Coquitlam, she said.
"We’re just really happy to be here," Perrin told city councillors and staff. "It’s such a nice feeling to feel so welcome in the City of Coquitlam."
The fest, which runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 23 and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 24, will be a celebration of Caribbean multiculturalism, with entertainment, food and dancing in each of the islands’ styles.
The site, on the eastern side of Lafarge Lake, will be fenced off to allow for a beer garden and, for the first time, there will be an educational tent for guests to learn more about Caribbean traditions such as clothing and hair braiding.
A three-on-three basketball tournament for kids ages 10 to 16 will also be held.
Perrin reminded the elected officials of the notable Tri-City leaders with Caribbean connections such as the late Percy Perry, a Trinidadian and track and field coach from Coquitlam whose name is on the Town Centre Park stadium, and the late Port Coquitlam mayor Len Traboulay, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago.
Coun. Trish Mandewo acknowledged the hard work by society members and city staff to bring the Caribbean Days fest to Coquitlam.
"My heart is smiling," she said, noting the event will "bring the colour" to the city.
"We hope it’s a roaring success," Coun. Brent Asmundson added.
André Isakov, Coquitlam’s manager of economic development, said the festival will be a tourism boost and generate much-needed spinoffs for local businesses in the post–pandemic world.
According to a report from Lanny Englund, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation, culture and facilities, Coquitlam is providing $20,000 to the society for professional event management services plus a one-time $18,000 to market the new event for the city.
As well, with the help of city staff, the society secured $77,000 in federal and provincial grants for the 2022 fest in Coquitlam.
Caribbean Days is rated one of the top 15 festivals in Metro Vancouver, based on attendance. For more details, you can go to the festival's website.
Meanwhile, another large multicultural fest will be at Town Centre Park next month.
ScotFestBC: The BC Highland Games hosts its 90th annual event on the evening of June 17 (free) and all day on June 18 (ticketed).