Caribbean festival returns to Clayton Saturday

JONESBORO — There may not be indigenous palm trees or a crystal blue sea in Clayton County, but residents will get a taste of the islands this weekend.

The Caribbean Association of Georgia Inc. will partner with county officials Saturday to host the South Metro Caribbean Festival at Clayton County International Park, 2300 Ga. Highway 138 in Jonesboro. After taking a year off, the association’s president, Jackie Watson, said the event is returning this year without an admission fee.

The festival began in 2009 and has been held at the park every year except for last year. Watson said they moved it from their traditional Labor Day weekend perch because people had to pay to get into the park on that day.

By moving it to an earlier date, they were able to eliminate the $10 fee, she said.

“We didn’t want to continue last year because it was too expensive for families, so we decided to hold out until this year to see if we could coordinate it and do it without an admission fee,” said Watson.

The festival will be held from 1 to 8 p.m., with children’s games, soccer, boxing, cricket and netball demonstrations, a talent showcase, displays for county departments, vendors, a DJ, door prizes and health screenings. Watson said the U.S. Army has agreed to bring a rock climbing wall, but attendees must be at least 16 to climb it.

And what Caribbean festival would be complete without traditional foods and music from the islands? Watson said it will have both.

“We will have other food vendors out there, but the majority will be serving traditional Caribbean foods,” said Watson. “The mouth-watering and delicious food will be out there.”

Watson estimated about 4,000 people attended a similar festival the association held on the McDonough Square earlier this summer. She is hopeful that the Clayton County festival will draw similar numbers.

“This will be the first year we’re doing it without the fee attached, so I know that will be an attraction,” said Watson. “We’re expecting anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 people, or hopefully more.”

Attendees are asked to bring a new soft toy or school supplies to donate at the festival for children’s groups.