A Celebration of Caribbean Culture: Food, Music and Dance

The Lansing Community College (LCC) Student Life and Leadership Office presented the event on August 26 from noon to midnight.  For one day, the North Washington Square Mall Outdoor Amphitheater, located at the center of the downtown LCC campus was full of the dynamic sounds, spirit and flavor  of the Caribbean.

Several bands performed throughout the day and night, including the dynamic calypso/steel drum sounds of The Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, and the salsa and Latin jazz of Orquesta La Inspiracion. Both groups hail from Detroit.

British Virgin Island group Elvis White, a newcomer to the festival lineup this year had the crowd to their feet.  The soca band was selected as "best live band" during the 2005 Miami Carnival. Elvis White brought an element of energy  from the fusion of R & B, pop and dancehall music to this year’s festival.

Standing ovation:  Zulu Connection, a stilt dancing troupe,  provides  an opportunity to show festival goers at taste of Caribbean entertainment.  They have been a authentic crowd pleaser for many years

A new addition to the festival was  the The Magic Kompa band.  They delivered a true Kompa dance music sound from Haiti.  Outlaws I and I, a returning festival favorite, also provided Reggae rhythms to the festivities.

Spectators agreed that the festival is more than just the music, but is truly a great annual show that you cannot witness anywhere in the area.

Liz Kozlowski and her son, Ambrose Kozlowski, have  been attending the festival for some time.  Ms. Kozlowski said, “This festival always marks a time of celebration and enjoyment in the city.  I try to come every year to enjoy the music.  I especially enjoy the stilt walkers and the drummers they really create a Caribbean atmosphere.”

As New Orleans-based Zulu Connection joined Lansing’s own African Masquerade Dancers in parading through the crowd several times during the day, they mingled while invigorating the crowd.  On tall stilts and in colorful costumes they walked and danced to the sounds of their drummers.

Their tall stilts were covered in extremely long colorful pants.  They were were waving and jumping in front of the stage with the rest of the crowd.  The expert walkers would lift up one leg to dance or alternate legs.  Their brilliant costumes represent the rich cultures of the Caribbean, Haiti and Africa.

The festival was also home to a large outdoor vendor village offering dishes and beverages from many Caribbean nations.  There was plenty of authentic island taste treats, including Jamaican jerky, curry chicken and goat, Cuban sandwiches, and island beverages like ginger beer and Ting.  Merchandise vendors displayed their exotic wares in the Caribbean World Market Place, located throughout the mall square.  There was also a children’s activity tent that included a Potter Park Zoo petting zoo, arts and crafts, clowns, face painting and balloon sculptures.

As with every year, the festival brings together people from all walks of like and all corners of the globe.  The food and the revelry was a great way to the celebrate the little bit of time left before students went back to school and Labor Day marked the impending Fall weather.