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Koffee, Ernestine, & more to perform at Belize Int’l Music and Food Festival

HeadlineKoffee, Ernestine, & more to perform at Belize Int’l Music and Food Festival

Belize’s first-ever International Music & Food Festival is set to take place in San Pedro on July 30 and 31 and will feature a host of local and international talent, including rising reggae star Koffee, Belizean soca icon Ernestine Carballo, Supa G, Barrington Levy, Patrice Roberts, TR Shine, and more.

By Khaila Gentle

BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 23, 2022

May 23 was the date of the official media launch of the first-ever Belize International Music & Food Festival (BIMFF), which some have already been hailing as a mega event and the biggest concert to ever take place in the country. The two-day festival is set to take place in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, on July 30 and 31 at the Saca Chispas Football Field. 

Tourism stakeholders, government officials, and several Belizean musicians all gathered in the Toucan Hall Room at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza on Monday, where, as part of the launch, 15 local artists signed contracts with the Ministry of Tourism and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). Those artists included Supa G, TR Shine, Ernestine Carballo, Stig Da Artist, King Rome, and more. After signing their contracts, all the artists were given a moment to share a few words and express their thanks.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Anthony Mahler spoke at the media launch about the return of on-stage performances following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as his hopes that Belize’s music industry will one day be comparable to that of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and other nations.

“Music is important for Jamaica, music is important for Trinidad, music is important for the continent of Africa with Afrobeats, with Reggaeton out of Puerto Rico. And I believe with a creative environment that we can use Punta and other music from Belize to create an international music where people can embrace it internationally,” he stated.

“It is important for us as a country to support our musicians. This music festival is to create a platform whereby we can build exposure for our local artists. It is being supported by international artists, but as we continue to develop and evolve, we want the headlines to be Belizean artists,” he added.

The festival is expected to feature a wide range of local and international talent spanning a variety of genres, from reggae and dancehall to punta rock and afrobeats. Among the headliners are international artists Patrice Roberts, Koffee, Farmer Nappy, Timaya, Demarco, Barrington Levy, and Ricardo Drue.  Other local performers will include Flaco Leslie, Yas Thalia, Denise Castillo, J Cas, Dajah, Brithney Starr, Don Doe, Den Z, Papa John, and TLC Band, to name a few.

According to the BTB, the festival will also showcase Belize’s diverse culinary landscape, featuring vendors and businesses from across the country. At Monday’s media launch, Hon. Anthony Mahler also spoke on the importance of local cuisine:

“Food is also an important part of what we do in the tourism industry and just on a whole. The other day I was traveling and I sat next to this gentleman not knowing who he was and I said ‘why are you visiting Belize?’. He said, ‘well, I came to dive, and I brought my brother for the first time and his two young sons’. And I said, ‘what was your takeaway from the trip?’ and he said the food and the music and the culture,” he stated.

The aim of the festival is not only to promote Belize’s culture, food and music to international and regional visitors but to do so at a time of the year when tourism activity in the country is slow.

And while news of the International Music & Food Festival has been received with much celebration and anticipation by tourism stakeholders, everyday Belizeans, and local artists alike, some entities, including the United Democratic Party, remain skeptical.

A press release issued by the UDP on the evening following the media launch criticizes the festival, which it calls a “hurry come up” that neglects local artists while hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on international artists.

“It is obvious that the festival is not really designed to improve the tourism product. A two- month window to advertise this event will make absolutely no impact on the tourism market, influence zero additional booking of flights to Belize and barely energize even the domestic tourism market,” stated the UDP.

Both at the media launch and in a press release issued shortly after, however, the Belize Tourism Board reiterated its aims, one of which is to use the festival as a platform for Belizean artists to showcase their talent, network with each other, and build relationships for international growth. The BTB also hopes to use the festival to support the future creation of state-of-the-art music studios throughout the country.

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