The Ministry of Tourism’s Goombay Summer Festival was the first event to take place on July 7, 2017 at BAIC Park during The Bahamas’ 44th Independence weekend festivities.
Moderator Shelly Austin greeted everyone in attendance giving special acknowledgements to Island Administrator Charles Moss, and Antoinette Davis, general manager of the Ministry of Tourism’s Family Islands Unit. Also in attendance were employees of the Abaco Tourist Office.
In the exceptional lineup of performers there was T Time, who provided energetic rake ‘n’ scrape music during his performance followed by Rashad Reckley known as the “Sax Man.” Reckley played a range of music genres on his saxophone including familiar reggae and romantic songs.
The next item on the agenda was the appearance of the popular Character for Kids, which the children thoroughly enjoyed as was evident from their joyous screams and laughter. Boots from Dora the Explorer animated series, and Hello Kitty danced to a variety of hip hop songs with the children before inviting them to join in on a round of ring play.
The Goombay Dancers soon emerged in a blur of colours waving pom-poms and dancing energetically through the crowd to perform center stage. Flanked by drummers wearing straw hats and vibrantly printed shirts, the dancers gyrated to the beat of the goat skin drums and maracas moving in sync to Bahamian dances like the quadrille and heel and toe.
In addition to the entertainers, the Goombay Summer festival featured displays of Bahamian culture through the food, music and talents as people sampled Bahamian delicacies from vendors on location, purchased authentic Bahamian arts and crafts and were entertained by Junkanoo and Goombay music and dance. A bouncing castle was also on site along with a booth that supplied snow cones, popcorn and cotton candy, and on the opposite side of BAIC Park, a conch stand and ice-cream truck.
A collaboration of Junkanoo groups came together to perform as one in a rush-out that further hyped the audience up before “Soul Man” Gary McDonald slowed the pace of the music to play Bahamian songs like “Stagger Lee”; Veronica Bishop’s, “Tell Ole Lying Him I Een Here”; and Stevie S’ “You Got Me Thinking” switching over to the classical songs of The Drifters with “This Magic Moment” and “Darling, I Love You.”
Austin then called on world-renowned Lady E (Erica Symonette) & Dancers for another captivating performance that many of the younger participants joined in on. Symonette who has Abaco roots also performed one of her original songs for the audience.
One of the highlights of the festival was surely the daring performances of the fire dancer and limbo dancer who performed using fire in their individual routines. While the fire dancer danced with a platter of fire dipping her hands and feet into the flames, the limbo dancer demonstrated unbelievable flexibility ending his performance with the limbo bar on fire as he expertly limboed under it to the cheers and utter astonishment of the crowd.
Bahamian Rake ‘n’ Scrape Artist Stileet was the final performer on the program.
Goombay refers to the music and dance associated with the goombay or goatskin drums where the drummer emits an enthralling rhythm by beating the top of it with their hands. Bahamian history notes that goombay songs have long been rich in historical content expertly produced by Bahamian greats like Blake Alphonso Higgs better known as Blind Blake, George Symonette and Charlie Adamson and John “Chippie” Chipman.
Over the years, Goombay has given way to the modern-day sounds of Bahamian music artists like Dillon “D Mac” McKenzie, Kirkland “KB” Bodie, and Eugene “Geno D” Davis.