Music is a big part of Caribbean Fest, Aug. 5 and 6 at the Maple Ridge Fairgrounds.

Music is a big part of Caribbean Fest, Aug. 5 and 6 at the Maple Ridge Fairgrounds.

Take a free trip to the islands without leaving Maple Ridge at the 17th annual Caribbean Festival

‘One love, One heart… Let’s get together and feel all right’ – Bob Marley

The sights, sounds and flavours of the Caribbean come to life right here at home when the Maple Ridge Fairgrounds welcome the Caribbean Festival Aug. 5 and 6.

It’s year three at the fairgrounds for the 17th annual festival, whose popularity outgrew the streets of downtown Maple Ridge. Up to 18,000 people are expected at this year’s family-friendly event, which promises plenty of music, dancing, a kids’ zone and of course, fantastic – and authentic – Caribbean food.

Even better, admission to the grounds is free!

Music

Feet will be moving as two stages showcase Reggae, Ska, Soca and Cuban Salsa performances by a host of celebrated musicians, including Los Furios, Rumba Calsa and Mostly Marley on Saturday. Acclaimed Eagles tribute band Hotel California returns to close Saturday’s line-up, with Maple Ridge’s own singing sensation, 12-year-old Laura Webb, opening the show.

Sunday brings the 40-voice VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir, King Fish Limbo, Phase 3 Steelband and a colourful Brazilian Samba show by Samba Fusion before the evening finale by crowd favourite “Mr. Soca” Carl’s Soundvibes.

“We have pretty well the best Caribbean acts you can find on the West Coast,” says organizer Deddy Geese. “It’s your chance to have a little tropical vacation right here at home!”

Visit online for the full entertainment line-up.

Fun

Stroll the open-air Caribbean market, home to up to 40 street vendors, and take in the large kids’ zone with face painting and numerous activities planned for younger festival-goers. Kids’ Zone entertainment includes a fantastic Capoeira demonstration, The Nylon Zoo, West Coast Martial Arts, Zumba, craft stations, puppet shows and much more. “There’s so much variety, it really does offer entertainment for all ages, and there’s lots to do for the kids. We always welcome a lot of families.”

Food

No visit to the Caribbean would be complete without a taste of the Islands. Savour a mouth-watering array of food vendors, cooking up everything from Jerk chicken and curried goat and Cuban barbecue, then wet your whistle at the beer garden – serving Jamaica’s Red Stripe and Trinidad’s Carib, of course!

“As soon as you walk on the grounds, you’re greeted by all the delicious smells of all the traditional cooking by our food vendors and you’re whisked away to the islands,” Geese says.

Visit Caribbean Fest from 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5 and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6 at the Maple Ridge Fairgrounds, 23448 105 Ave. Learn more online at caribbeanfest.ca or visit on Facebook.