Chicken Can Cross: Portland Jerk Fest 2011

July 8, 2011

Words and Photos byย  Martei Korley

Portland, Jamaica is the home of jerk cooking, site of the world-famous Boston Jerk Centre and the island’s top annual food festival. This year’s Portland Jerk Fest was everything it was supposed to be: A huge gathering of hungry patrons who came from near and far to sample some Portland-style jerk foods and entertainment. There was something for everyone, and most palates: not just staple pork and chicken but also fish, lobster, sausage and conch. For the kids there were rides and for the adults a stageshow. Rising stars milled about the stage for a few forwards, or tepid applause (the kind which means “get off the stage”) before making way for real stars such as Beenie Man and Sizzla. True to tradition, the Folly Estate grounds were soaked by a downpour in the earlier part of the day making it difficult to move about at times. As for the parking arrangements: Di bus can swim. But as smoke from the cooking fires softened the outline of Port Antonio’s bay, it seemed that the arrangers had managed to get it all right anyway…

Hard to cross… Maybe these are fisherwomen or just people of great understanding?

An entrepreneur sells jelly coconuts from a canoe

Chunks of pork roasting away on pimento wood

The line of cooking fires continued into the horizon…

Yes, Bull Buck – duppy conquer? The kids got their fun time on as well.

How did this brother manage to keep his shoes white? Must be a Jamaican. Others resorted to more mundane approaches. Moon boot-like galoshes made from plastic bags proved popular.


A slightly disinterested crowd waits through the karaoke-style entertainment of the late evening before the real stars take the stage.