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Miami's Goombay Fest
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Posted by:Jun 9th 2004, 03:57:08 pm
Fig Tree News TeamPosted on Sun, Jun. 06, 2004

MIAMI
Cuisine among the delights at Goombay fest
Street partyers can savor favorite Bahamian dishes and dance to Junkanoo band beats during the Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival in Coconut Grove, which continues today.
BY ERIKA PESANTES
epesantes@herald.com

This weekend's 28th annual Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival offers a taste of the Caribbean -- fresh tropical mango, crab fritters, and peas and rice.

But it was Goldie's conch salad that had them lining up.

The Nassau chef, who gets his name from the chunky gold chains around his neck, not to mention his row of gold teeth, was energetically chopping onions.

''He's only rested his hands in cold water once,'' said Julie Gilbert, a vendor from a neighboring booth. ``He hasn't stopped since 10 a.m.''

Marcus Jones, 19, of Perrine, had some of Goldie's salad last year: ''It's the best, it's the freshest,'' he said, sharing some with his family this year.

But, what keeps crowds coming for the conch?

''It's a secret ingredient,'' said Kirkwood 'Goldie' Evans, who wouldn't reveal the key to his culinary craft.

But Rosabell Smith, who owns The Bahamian Hot Spot restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, was quick to give away her conch salad recipe. The magic is in the spices: goat pepper, bird pepper and a dash of sour orange juice.

Of course, food is only one draw of the annual festival, which also offers crafts, hip-hop and reggae beats, a street carnival and Junkanoo bands.

On Saturday, Freeport's Crusaders and Swingers Junkanoo Band paraded along Grand Avenue between Douglas Road and Main Highway. The 60 members were decked out in cardboard and crepe paper, beads and splashes of bright colors.

Even sneakers were decorated with felt and accented with rhinestones and feathers.

COSTUMES

The costumes are all handmade by the band members and dancers, who sometimes spend eight months to make a single creation.

''We all get together under one umbrella to represent the Bahamas,'' said member Anjoun Armaly. ``The adrenaline and pride [keep us going].''

On a June weekend with 60,000 packing the streets, many sought ways to beat the heat. Popular Bahamian soft drinks -- Junkanoo punch, a pineapple soda and Goombay punch, a fruit champagne -- were rare finds, but coveted ones at $2 a pop.

For $15, one could pick up a Bahamian straw hat that measured 2 feet in diameter.

DOING BUSINESS

And others learned from previous festivals to put on their own entrepreneurial caps.

Kevin Sands and Curtis Johnson hope to make $2,000 over the weekend selling facial terry towels at a dollar apiece.

And that idea might not be too far-fetched. With little cloud cover and temperatures rising into the 90s on Saturday, partyers were drenched in sweat.

Said Sands: ``They're going like hot cakes.''

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