UniFest – Our Story
UNIFEST is a presentation of authentic, culturally diverse and sensitive performances. This includes international and local artists and dancers, display of Cultural artifacts from the various Caribbean islands, storytelling, parade of carnival costumes, etc. The annual essay contest for local students and the cultural exchange with the visiting band provides educational component to community programs. The event is family oriented and provides great cultural experience for the young and young at heart.
The 24 years of UNIFEST continue to establish the importance of this event to the residents of Broward County attesting to the fact that it is a successful event with a growth future in spite of the bumps in the road that we have overcome in remaining viable as the oldest multicultural festival in Broward County. The attendance has improved over the years driven by our ability to hire quality high end artistes. To this end, we continuously field inquiries from international artistes and place an emphasis on the inclusion of local artistes and vendors wanting to be a part of this one of a kind event in Broward County.
The cultural exchange with the marching band is unique to UNIFEST and presents an opportunity for visiting students to visit local High Schools to share their cultural dynamics with our local students. In 2015 we were able to expand that exchange program with Boyd Anderson High School’s visit to Jamaica as guests of the Portmore Marching Band of Kingston Jamaica. The Masters Dominoes Tournament, a cultural pastime has participants that started with us 24 years ago, and who has formed groups within their various cities in Broward County. Netball which has expanded throughout Broward County cities and is now being offered by some Parks and Recreation Departments is a 24 year fixture.
These activities are rooted in ethnic tradition based on the culturally diverse participants. This is proven by the success of the event over the years. Caribbean culture is deeply rooted in its music, food, arts and crafts, sports, etc. Reggae originating from Jamaica, Soca from Trinidad and Tobago, Chutney music of Indians of Caribbean decent, gospel music with American influence, a variety of Caribbean foods with origin from Africa and India (jerk chicken, curry goat, roti, roast fish, breadfruit, ackee, conch etc.). Sporting events like cricket, netball, soccer, etc. Artistes from the various Caribbean Islands are featured annually. Our activities provides educational component to community programs through the promotion of cultural understanding and awareness and a very profound emphasis on quality and professionalism.
Our organization is also in collaboration with the old Dillard Museum to inform and educate the public on the history of Juneteenth annual celebrations. Additionally, to accomplish our mandate for developing collaborative efforts, we have reached out to the Polynesian Culture Association, Inc., Brazilian Voices, Haitian Flag Day Organizations and other organizations consistent with those efforts.
Past artists include: “Fab 5”, who is no stranger to anyone in South and Central Florida and other parts of the United States. This versatile band which was formed in 1970 is a staple and many events from concerts and stage shows to parties where their vibe and musical diversity take over. Musicianship, dedication, integrity and discipline are the hallmarks of Fab 5. They have earned and retained the respect of the music industry, critics and general public over the past 39 years. Jam Band from the US Virgin Island is the only band in the Caribbean to have won the coveted Road March title in the Virgin Islands’ yearly carnival celebrations a whopping 21 times. The Mighty Sparrow, the Calypso King of the World and Luciano the Crown Prince of Reggae Annette Brissette & or Calypso Rose (& the band that have artist from 6 different Caribbean countries) along with International Recording Artiste Nigel Lewis of “Moving to the left, moving to the right fame”, and now adding Gospel to his repertoire, The legendary group Culture, Luciano, Ken Boothe, and Ernie Smith, Neil “Iwer” George, Leon Coldero and Code 868 Band, Gyptian, Sanchez, Nadine Sutherland, Brigadier General, Singing Melody, Romain Virgo, Prophet Benjamin, Aikea and Frankie Paul are among the notables who have also appeared.
We have made strides in progressing towards our objectives in the development of multiculturalism in the State of Florida. We have taken steps to become a member of the Florida Festivals and Events Association.
This will enhance the successful production of Unifest as well as our other events around Unifest; Exhibitions of various Art forms, workshops and seminars such as an Emancipation Day Seminar and Cultural presentations that include the schools of Broward County and the Senior residents of our immediate surroundings. Our Haitian Flag Day celebrations and Juneteenth commemorations expand our exposure as we continue to deliver and capitalize on our outreach opportunities.
Our successes can be measured and is reflective of the accomplishments to date. As part of our efforts to educate the community on the significance of diverse cultures, we were able to put in motion an educational and cultural exchange with the Portmore Marching Band for Boyd Anderson High School Marching Band to visit Jamaica in the spring of 2015.
The Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition was successful in providing cultural enrichment for Broward’s culturally diverse population. Through Unifest, we were able to bring the community together for a celebration and appreciation of Caribbean culture. Because of this event, there is a positive economic impact on Broward County, with people attending Unifest from all parts of the country Canada and the Caribbean.
The event is family oriented and provides great cultural experience for the young and young at heart. For 24 successful years, UNIFEST has been able to bring to Broward County residents the true flavor of Caribbean culture. The attendance continues to grow year after year. To reach our intended audience, the event is marketed locally through various media outlets. In our attempt to develop new audiences as we enter this significant milestone period, our 25th Anniversary, we are going to aggressively celebrate the Iconic proponents of our cultural evolution that have propelled for example the Reggae art form that supported the selection of Bob Marley’s “One Love” as the song of the century. In celebration of our 25th year we are also adding a Grand Silver Anniversary Ball to mark this important milestone.