Raleigh, North Carolina, has its very own Caribbean festival, CaribMask, which is going on its 7th year!
The festival celebrates the Caribbean culture through food, dance, music, art and a lot more. This year the festival started on August 22, 2018 and ended August 26, 2018. However, I only attended the Saturday portion of the event, which involved the Parade of Bands and Village Festival, where several food vendors and pop-up shops took over Fayetteville street in Downtown Raleigh!
I had no idea the CaribMask festival was going on at all. It was just my lucky day off when I googled events in Raleigh for the weekend, and the time of the parade appeared on the list of events. I became excited and eager to attend the parade because I experienced the 2017 Caribana Fest in Toronto, Canada.
The Caribbean Festival originated as the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival; it would take place on the Monday and Wednesday before Ash Wednesday. The Caribbean festival is a celebration of several different traditions throughout each Caribbean culture. Over the years, the festival has become a popular celebration in large cities such as Raleigh, NC.!
CaribMask is hosted each year by the Raleigh-Durham Afro-Caribbean Association (RDACA). Their mission, according to their Facebook page, is to promote diversity and equality. They aim to create a deeper appreciation of Caribbean culture in the area through integration, creation, and support of community activities like the CaribMask Caribbean Carnival.
Raleigh is a vibrant and multicultural city. There were people representing several areas of the Caribbean: Jamaica, Trinidad, Africa, Colombia, Brazil, Barbados, Haiti, Bahamas, Belize, Panama, Guyana, St Lucia, and areas surrounding Raleigh, NC.
The parade started at 11 am, but I got there fifteen minutes late, so I was not able to get a good view. Each side of Fayetteville Street was filled with people as eager to see the parade as much as I was. I found a spot on the left side of the street, where I stood on the base of a tree bed next to a gentleman who seemed to be alone as well. Even though I stood on a raised tree bed, I struggled with having a good view of what was happening, but the music kept me entertained!
Once the parade was over, I immediately started looking for Jerk Chicken with red beans and rice. I tried the dish for the first time during my Jamaica trip in 2016, and I loved it! All of the food lines were extremely long; I stood in line for over 1 hour and 30 minutes. The sun was extremely hot while I waited, and I debated if it was worth it The longer I stood in line, the more I told myself I might as well stick it out because I’d been standing for such a long time already anyway! I will say…..the wait was worth it!
I hope to experience more of the festival in 2019, but in the meantime….enjoy my photos!
CaribMask 2018 Photos