The 17th annual Caribbean Festival will feature 16 bands that will play non-stop the entire weekend. THE NEWS/files

The 17th annual Caribbean Festival will feature 16 bands that will play non-stop the entire weekend. THE NEWS/files

Maple Ridge Caribbean Fest a foodie’s paradise

Authentic open cooking will be featured at Maple Ridge music fest.

The 17th annual Caribbean Festival this weekend is going to be a food lover’s paradise.

There will be 18 or 19 food vendors alone serving up food in authentic open cooking style.

Everything Caribbean will be offered from jerk chicken to curried goat.

“The smell in the air kind of gives you the feeling of being away from Maple Ridge,” said organizer Deddy Geese.

“You name, it we’ve got it.”

Back by popular demand will be the Eagles tribute band, Hotel California.

“Hotel California we had about two years ago and it was huge. It was a very, very big success,” said Geese.

The group will be headlining the stage on Saturday evening with a two hour concert.

“We have to bring in acts like that in order to get people into the grounds,” Geese said about including rock tribute bands in the festival.

“It attracts a different set of clientele or customer-goers that are not quite familiar with the Caribbean Festival and all of a sudden they see what we are doing and we have them hopefully for next year,” he added.

Opening up for Hotel California will be Maple Ridge’s own Lauren Webb, a 12-year-old singing sensation accompanied by her father, Jason Webb, on guitar.

Two stages at the festival, the Caribbean stage and the Marley stage, will have non-stop live music all weekend long.

Sixteen live bands from across the Lower Mainland and Toronto will feature the best in reggae, calypso, salsa and soca music.

There will be a Caribbean open air market with 40 to 50 artisan vendors.

A fenced-in kid’s zone will feature rides, a tumblebus, kids fun slides, castles, face painting, story time, puppet shows, Capoeira and Zumba.

Saturday afternoon, from 1 to 5 p.m., there will be a vintage car show-and-shine.

Last year, 18,000 people enjoyed the festival.

In 2015, the festival switched locations from Memorial Peace Park, downtown Maple Ridge, to the Albion Fairgrounds.

Now, Geese says, the festival is much more accessible to everybody.

“We have so much parking which we did not have downtown,” said Geese, adding that downtown was getting too expensive.

“The logistics weren’t working anymore. Yes downtown had a nice cozy atmosphere but it just didn’t do it anymore,” he said.

The lineup this year is very strong.

“I always say we’ve got the best in western Canada that you can get,” said Geese.

“There is something for everybody.”