Despite sometimes heavy rain, the 18th annual Jamaica Arts & Music Summer Festival, fondly known as JAMS, took place Aug. 1 and 2, in Rufus King Park and along Jamaica Avenue. Thousands of residents and visitors lined up to purchase such tasty culinary treats as grilled corn, meats and candy apples, and sipped soft drinks and lemonade as they perused the stalls of the numerous vendors who displayed their enticing bargains.
On the opening night, 107.5-FM WBLS radio personality Doctor Bob Lee emceed the event, which spotlighted such local talent as the Moko Jumbie Stilt Walkers, the Elite Marching Band, the students of the DeVore Dance Center and many other talented young hopefuls who had an opportunity to perform before onlookers, family and friends.
On Saturday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer danced along with the residents to the tune of the classic Tom Browne hit “Funkin’ For Jamaica” before he addressed the crowd, praising the residents of Queens for being at the forefront of the growing community event. He was joined on stage by JAMS Artistic Director Craig Crawford and Tyra Emerson, executive director of the Cultural Collaborative Jamaica as he discussed the importance of JAMS.
Saturday’s lineup included such performers as DJ Tam Tam, pop princess Stephanie Courtney and reggae artist Yanks. The show was closed by the energetic, unstoppable international singing sensation Carlton J. Smith, who portrayed James Brown in the 1999 film “Liberty Heights.”
The festival was brought to the community by the JAMS Planning Committee, Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, Community Board 12, Life Jam Productions, the Jamaica YMCA, the Afrikan Poetry Theatre, the Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults, the 103rd Precinct, the New York State Army National Guard and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.