Exuma gears up for heritage fest

By JEFFARAH GIBSON Tribune Features Writer AS EXUMA gears up for its annual Bahamas Heritage and Music Festival this week, local artists are looking forward to performing on the popular live stage. For many Bahamians, the annual festival is responsible for propelling their music careers. Abby Moritimer, Basil Smith, and Terez Hepburn are just a few musicians who have all hit the stage at the festival. Tropical Breeze band member Michael Hoyte also acknowledged the festival for giving him a jump-start. "We got our start at the festival. We play all different genres of music. This year will be our second year performing at the festival, but this will be the first time performing for the three days for all of the musicians. I think it is a privilege to able to play for the festival," he said. The heritage festival is a good stage for artists to get their feet wet. "The only way people will become of aware of you is by your performances. You must get out there and perform at different venues. Events like this attract whole lot of people and you do not know who will be in the crowd. There might be someone there who was moved by your performance and they can connect you with people," said Mr Hoyte. The 8th annual festivals starts tomorrow and ends Sunday. The festivities will begin with the gospel concert at the Regatta Park in George Town, Exuma. "We try to do something different every two years. We try to enhance the face of the event," said Pethrina Hanna, chairman of the festival. Tomorrow morning there will be an educational segment. Students will be transported to the festival site to watch and participate in the demonstration of straw weaving/plaiting, wood carving, story-telling, and bread kneading. They will also learn how to dance the maypole, and rake n'scrape during their visit. On Saturday there will be a culinary competition between high school students. Bank of Bahamas is sponsoring the cultural competitions, which include coconut barking, wood carrying, corn shucking, peas shelling, onion peeling, and conch cracking. Winners of these competitions will be given (Mango Cards) from Bank of Bahamas as prizes. "This festival benefits the entire community as all of the hotels are booked solid, the car rentals are all sold out, the food stores and restaurants are busy, and the taxi drivers are all making money. So, in addition to garnering an event just for celebration it is also creates economic benefits for the locals," said Ms Hanna. A local entertainment company is organising the concert this year. Artists on the line up include Abby Mortimer, Elon Moxey, Ancient Man, and Dillion "D-Mac" Mckenzie, Funky D, Kb and many more. "This year it is expected more people will attend, as we have taken on a private-sector partner, who is also promoting the event throughout new Providence and Turks island. They have a mature following of whom many will be traveling to Exuma to attend the event," said Ms Hanna. "Visitors and locals alike look forward to this event each year, and this year will be no exception. The Ministry of Tourism, Exuma team, is working tirelessly to complete preparation in time for the opening tomorrow," she said. The event will be covered by Magnetic Media and Native Show.


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