Sunny skies warmed hearts and spirits during Family Fun Day, the final event of the 2019 Guyana Folk Festival, in Crown Heights on Sept. 1.
“The day was filled with nice-ness and one-ness,” according to Dr. Vibert Cambridge, president of the Guyana Cultural Association. “The Children’s Village was the site of innovations.”
This year’s Family Fun Day included several large versions of popular table-top games, including checkers, ludo, chess and The Memory Game. Each of these games featured some reference to Guyanese festivals or places.
“These games showed entertainment-education at work—how play can encourage learning,” said Dr. Cambridge, who is also professor emeritus of communication studies at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. “The village also offered young attendees an opportunity to paint. From their faces, it was a good experience.”
The Old Boys and Girls High School grounds in Brooklyn was filled with everything Guyanese on Family Fun Day. Booths along the perimeter offered arts and crafts, fashion creations by batik and tie-dye designers, and footwear made from genuine Guyana leather.
Like every year, Guyanese and friends travel from across the world, to enjoy their culture at the folk festival, the biggest event, next to the Annual Labor Day carnival on Easter Parkway.
Some greeted each other with hugs, while others stopped to chat, and share in the music that permeated the atmosphere.
Guyana’s Arrowhead flag was visible everywhere, and was especially waved during the cultural showcase of music and dance that highlighted the Family Fun Day program.
The list of performers included Courtney Noël, Pablo G, international dancer Zaman, Adrian Dutchin, Gavin Mendoca, Flantis, the Kwe Kwe Ensemble, Randy Ramdin and the Tassa band, Tobago Roxborough Police Youth Club, Jamaan Victor and Classique NYC and Friends, and many others, who kept the crowd entertained for hours. Dr. Rose October served as the event’s emcee.
Some of the most notable acts included the top-ranking Ninja Band and Angels Caribbean Band, both of whom kept attendees on their feet with Calypso, Soca, and chutney music that lasted until twilight.
First Lady of Guyana Sandra Granger and Guyana’s Consul General to New York Barbara Atherly also enjoyed a walkabout to greet nationals.
Mrs. Granger interacted with nationals, while others, photographed the gracious lady, who posed with expatriates, their children, and grandchildren.
Sen. Kevin Parker, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Guyana Minister of Finance of Guyana Winston Jordon also had a grand time with their Guyanese friends.
“It’s a wonderful experience enjoying my culture and meeting my fellow Guyanese, especially my old-time school friends from St Mary’s School in Guyana,” said Karen Richards, a Long Island resident. “I have been coming to the folk festival with my parents George and Dori Hall, since it was held in the Crown Heights area.”
Cornel Ferdinand, who lives in Maryland, has been attending the festival annually to reconnect with friends and family.
“I have traveled from Maryland to New York for several years, since the festival was held at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum,” said Ferdinand, a former broadcaster with the now-defunct Guyana Broadcasting Corporation. “There’s always new artists each year highlighting the culture and people of Guyana. It is also wonderful reuniting with distant family and seeing friends. The energies of the artistes and the exhilaration of the attendees coming together to support vendors, and to be a part of the activities makes it enjoyable.”
Zaena Ali, a first-time patron from Long Island, excitedly described her experience: “It was a very nice day, and as summer was coming to a close, myself and buddy Nazeela, decided to attend the festival. It was a very welcoming atmosphere. After visiting the food court, that had snapper, peas and rice, and ginger beer, we went to the main tent. The atmosphere of camaraderie, laughter, and fun, rippled with typical Guyanese colors and chatter.”
Cultural Director Claire A. Goring expressed gratitude to all who participated in the weekend festivities, thanking Alumni Associations, Queens College, Central, St. Roses, and Tutorial High Schools.
“This year we had an extra event, and the festival was successful only because of team work. It took months of rehearsal,” Goring said. “The Valerie Rodway concert had much support, from churches in Brooklyn. The vendors were on point providing the food patrons wanted. The kids played games and learned at the same time. The games, were constructed to reflect our festivals and Guyanese traditions. The children enjoyed the paint party, and Picasso painting experience.”
Goring described the festival as inclusive, starting with Kew Kew night that blended Indo Mattacore and Afro-Kwe Kew wedding ceremonies.
Plans are in the works next year for a special celebration of Guyana’s 50th anniversary as a republic, in February 2020.