Coconut Grove's Bahamian roots run deep, and that comes as no surprise because the island chain lies as close as 50 miles off the Florida coast. Bahamian settlement in South Florida began in the late 1880s in the Keys and moved north to Dade, and now the Goombay Festival celebrates this rich Caribbean history with the food, songs, dances, and crafts of the islands.
Dorothy P. Like Pretty Lee, now 71 years old, has lived in the Grove since she was 3 months old and has attended the festival since it started in 1976. This year she's in charge of vendor relations and says, "There will be all kinds of food, from conch salad to conch fritters to guava duff which kind of reminds you of peach cobbler if you've never had it to fried fish and soul food of all kinds, not just Bahamian. All kinds of ethnic groups participate. Everybody gets a chance to party and have fun. People are dressed in big beautiful costumes with headgear spread wide and colorful for the Junkanoo. They have a band with horns and cowbell; they beat the drums and march down the street, and people march behind them and take part in it. Some people have never seen anything like it. It's different from all the things on TV; it's a learning experience, and seeing it is better than reading about it. I'm just a little old lady trying to help as much as I can." Wow! Do yourself a favor and be a part of the free festival action on Grand Avenue from noon to 8 p.m. It's one of the biggest parties of the year. Visit the website for more info about events this Wednesday through June 7.
Sat., June 6, 12-8 p.m., 2009