Caribbean Fest is hosting a launch party at Memorial Peace Park ahead of the festival weekend this year. (THE NEWS/files)

Caribbean Fest is hosting a launch party at Memorial Peace Park ahead of the festival weekend this year. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge Caribbean Fest returning for its 18th year

New this year is a kick-off concert, meaning three days of live reggae music.

The popularity of Maple Ridge Caribbean Fest has led the festival to once again relocate from Memorial Peace Park to the Albion Fairgrounds.

New this year is a Caribbean Fest launch party that will be hosted in Memorial Peace Park on August 2nd from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., prior to the weekend festival.

Deddy Geese, Caribbean Fest organizer, said people are always looking for more activity, which is why they are hosting a launch party.

The launch party features performances by Maple Ridge Reggae Jam, Ketchy Shuby, and Mike Lane “Steel Pannist.”

After the music, there will be an after-party at the Silver Valley Brewing Company.

As for the popular weekend festival, the 18th annual Caribbean Fest will be bringing tasty food and reggae tunes to the Albion fairgrounds on August 4th from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and August 5th from 12:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“The success of it has been so incredible, and we want to continue building on the success. It gives another stage avenue for many lower mainland musicians who otherwise don’t have opportunities to play,” said Geese.

Reggae, calypso, salsa, soca and Cuban Salsa performances will hit the stage, with performances by artists Los Furios, Mostly Marley, VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir, King Fish Limbo and more.

“There’s a stage switch every hour, it’s important we don’t have down time. There’s entertainment continuously and that’s what we want to have,” said Geese.

Given the title of “Best Male Vocalist of the Year,” by the Reggae Music Achievement Awards, reggae singer Steele will headline the festival on Saturday night from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The festival features two stages with continuous music performed by 16 bands from Toronto and the Lower Mainland.

A variety of food vendors will offer authentic Caribbean foods like jerk chicken and curried goat.

For those looking to buy a souvenir, approximately 50 vendors will be selling items at a market.

There are a number of activities planned in a ‘kid zone’ for children including rides and face painting, a princess show, bouncy castle and more.

Geese said the event remains free, as he wants to attract families to Maple Ridge and encourage local families to stay in town and enjoy the long weekend.