Local band Los Furios plays during the Caribbean Festival at the Albion Fairgrounds.

Local band Los Furios plays during the Caribbean Festival at the Albion Fairgrounds.

‘Taste’ of Caribbean could return downtown Maple Ridge

Organizer Deddy Geese is already talking about changes for next year.

The Caribbean Festival may have a downtown feature again next year.

In the days after running the 16th annual reggae celebration, organizer Deddy Geese is already talking about changes for next year.

The concert is in just its second year at the Albion Fairgrounds, and Geese and his committee still feel it is the best place for the crowds of approximately 15,000 who come over the two days.

But Geese would like to link the Albion festival to the downtown with some Caribbean Festival activities there.

“The crowds downtown would get a taste of the festival, and it’s a nice setting in Memorial Peace Park,” said Geese.

The event tries to create the feel of an Island vacation. The free annual festival sees people drinking piña coladas out of a full pineapple, enjoying spicy Caribbean food like oxtail and inexplicably buying Bob Marley T-shirts.

They will dance to the sounds of reggae, ska and steel drums, or just spread out a blanket on the grass and soak up the sunshine and atmosphere.

At least some of that atmosphere will be returning to its street festival roots on 224th Street. Geese declined to say much more than “the committee is considering an enhancement that would include the downtown.”

He said the details will depend on a number of stakeholders.

Officials with the city’s economic development and downtown business association have been working on bringing more events to the main commercial district, and Geese is anticipating their support.

Geese said the festival again enjoyed good weather this past weekend, and the musical lineup was “stellar.”

He called the numbers, at between 15,000 and 16,000 people, “quite healthy.”

The only negative, said Geese, was the theft of two large banners. One is a huge backdrop for the main stage that depicts the artwork used for the festival posters and promotion. The other was a large banner for sponsor Chances Community Gaming Centre.

The banners had been left folded near the permanent stage at the fairgrounds, and somebody stole them. Geese said they would cost approximately $3,000 to replace, and asked that if anybody sees them they contact him through the festival website at www.caribbeanfest.ca.