A normally sleepy Sunday in Carfax, Horsham was up and ‘Cool Runnin’ right from the off as hundreds of people took in the chilled vibes of the town’s first Caribbean festival and holiday show, organised by Horsham District Council in partnership with The Sussex Travel Company of Queen Street.
A ‘Holiday Pavilion’ featuring representatives from many Caribbean islands, leading hotels, tour operators and Virgin Atlantic airlines were kept busy, as visitors found out more about exciting island holiday options, completing questions for the show’s big holiday competition as they went. There were also plenty of samples to enjoy along the way, including rum and chocolate from Grenada.
An interactive programme of performers and attractions built steadily towards a highly anticipated finale featuring top tribute band The Marley Experience that delivered an hour long set, packed full of crowd pleasers, including Stir It Up, Could You Be Loved and Exodus.
Tanya Pace, owner of The Sussex Travel Company, said: “What a fantastic day! We were blown away with the attendance; it was great to chat with all our existing and new customers. Wishing all the best of luck to everyone who enters the competition to win our amazing prize of a week in Tobago staying at two fabulous resort hotels the Coco Reef and Castara Retreats with flights from British Airways.”
Organisers were thrilled to see such a great mix of people dancing and enjoying the rhythms and beats of the Caribbean. There were gentle Steel Pan calypsos from Rachel Hayward, local Latin dance maestro’s, Dance Cubano who soon had people salsa-ing and Triniboi Joocie and his Carnival dancers played two brilliant sets that ended in an ‘all join in’ Soca conga that filled the area in front of the bandstand. Local dance group Rhythm and Sole presented a dynamic set of performances from across their age ranges, and lots of youngsters got the chance to sample some pro-limbo fun from Itara.
As visitors followed the blue sprayed footprints, from Swan Walk, they encountered a whole vista of Caribbean theming. A lovely chalk pavement drawing of a pool of tropical fish created by the talented Annalees Lim (who had also designed the colourful programme treasure map) fronted a forward performance area featuring potted palms from The Big Plant Nursery of Ashington. Next to this, Zac (from Horsham General Market) presented a fascinating array of Caribbean fruit and veg. The new events Giant Deckchair attracted plenty of selfies, placed as it was in front of the wonderfully exotic ‘Tobago bus’, and Southwater Water Sports were kept busy through the day as people asked about getting in some practise locally, (before that Caribbean holiday?).
Youngsters really enjoyed the Pirate Ship that roamed the Carfax, Pirate Pete dispensing balloon cutlasses and very old pirate jokes amongst the Carfax trees that had, somehow, become filled with (inflatable) parrots. Billy the Pineapple and Nicola the Parrot brought many a smile and posed for pictures. Two small sand pits provided day long entertainment as children dug for ‘treasure’ finding glass ‘jewels’, shells and ‘gold’ coins which they could swap for a piece of Caribbean fruit or a piece of ‘Horsham Rock’.
Before the Marley experience, under 11’s Pirates and Mermaids followed Pirate Pete the Pirate Ship to the bandstand where Rachel, from sponsors Non Stop Party Shop, awarded a prize voucher to Alex, as the junior winner, and Kerrie, from sponsors Clear Marketing, awarded the grown-ups prize of a Caribbean hamper to Jane.
Not knowing how popular the event would be, the organisers had only booked a small number of street food stalls, trying mostly to keep to an authentic Caribbean menu. All proved popular – especially Soul Street’s jerk chicken, Ginger Rookes’ corn fritters and Robin’s Caribbean Kitchen’s curried mutton, sweet treats and smoothies from ‘Vintage Vibe’ completing the menu. The Flair Affair Caribbean cocktail bar operated by an all ex-Wabi team not only quenched the thirst alongside Hepworth’s but entertained as Benz showed off his flairing tricks to the delight of the crowds around the bandstand.
Carfax based, The Horsham Cellar, were again fully involved, hosting tastings of St. Lucian rum and offering a prize bottle of Chairman’s Reserve for the best ‘on the day selfie’ taken on the Giant deckchair (Use the hashtag #HorshamCaribbeanDay to enter your picture on Instagram)
Caribbean travel zone explorers have until Sunday night (26 May) to get their entries in, using www.caribbeancompetition.
online for a chance to win the amazing £2700 value Tobago holiday for two or one of a number of goody bag runners up prizes.
If you visited the Horsham Caribbean Festival, please give the organisers your feedback via the survey on the @horshamtimewellspent page and you could win a bottle of St. Lucia Spiced Rum from The Horsham Cellar.
The ‘Life’s a Beach’ sequence of free Horsham town centre events continues next Sunday, 26 May, as an expanded Plum Jam ’19 rolls into and across town. This year, The REC Rooms spreads the Plum Jam ‘air cooled’ chilled vibe to their bowling alley car park, with a California Zone of surf themed campers and a very special music line-up that has the Chilli Fighters as a rocking finale. See you there!
Photo credit: Toby Phillips