Natalie Garvey, member of parliament for St Catherine North Central, says the 2022 staging of Emancifest will have added significance.
This year the organisers have partnered with the Ethiopian consul general and an Ethiopan Orthodox priest will participate in the opening, the lawmaker said.
There will also be a display booth and videos showing what Ethiopia has to offer.
Garvey said the return of the Emancifest celebration in Sligoville, after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been welcomed by residents who have been deprived of the festivities because of restrictions induced by the pandemic.
“I think this year’s return is far more exciting than before for the parish of St Catherine, more so the residents of Sligoville. The celebration will be at Highgate Park, where the former slaves were emancipated,” Garvey said.
Several residents expressed joy at the prospect of re-engagement at the festival.
“We are very glad to see it return after the two-year absence,” Michael Barton said.
“The community benefited from it for 11 years and it really hit us hard when it couldn’t be held, so mi glad that it is here once more.”
Previously, the annual celebration would cause hundreds of patrons to flock to the grounds of the Sligoville stadium.
The rural community, which was Jamaica’s first free village, benefits from the financial windfall brought by the festival.
In addition to the wide array of culinary delights, art and craft, and music, residents raked in profits from hosting overseas visitors at bed-and-breakfast rural getaways.
“I will be going all out to enjoy myself, as mi three friends coming to stay. Last year, they couldn’t come. I am really looking out to accommodate them this year still,” Melissa Gentles said.
The Social Development Commission has come on board with its Local Economic Initiative, which allows small entrepreneurs to promote their businesses.
“We have broadened the approach this time, which includes several small farmers and their produce. We want to benefit as much people as we can,” Lloyd Erskine of the SDC said.
There will also be a Celebrity Cook-off competition, Miss Emancifest competition, gospel and reggae concerts, and a host of other family-oriented activities.
The festival will be held July 31 to August 1. (The Gleaner)