In wake of COVID-19’s ruthless global invasion, plans for the biggest annual reggae festival in Jamaica are still up in the air.
Reggae Sumfest has long been an iconic stage in the reggae and dancehall music industry. Earlier this year, the event seemed well on its way to having its biggest staging yet, enlisting blazing acts like Koffee, Daddy1, veteran Shabba Ranks, and newcomer Stalk Ashley. However, like many live shows these days, the pandemic has threatened to thwart those lofty plans.
The festival’s curator Joe Bogdanovich spoke to The Gleaner about what to expect as the pandemic continues to grow worse before it gets better. “We will be sending out a release any time now,” the Downsound Entertainment CEO said. “I’m just waiting to get a few more confirmations that everything is correct,” he added.
There is still a lot to consider before evaluating the feasibility of the festival being held. New restrictions will pose costly alternatives and in some cases actually make it impossible to accommodate the performers and patrons. “Well, there are no hotel rooms to consider, no airfare, and there is always the benefits of profit-sharing,” said the Sumfest chief.
According to Bogdanovich, they have to think far ahead as well since the virus is projected to influence social changes for a long time. “We will be making announcements about Reggae Sumfest 2021 and 2020. This virus is very, very serious, and the type of protection that is being instituted here in Jamaica is getting more intense, and we don’t know how long it will last,” he told the publication.
He also noted that the very nature of the event has historically been the polar opposite of what is required of us now to flatten the curve with the coronavirus outbreak. Last year, in particular, had a record-breaking turnout that would have easily caused the virus to spread like wildfire had it been around then. “Looking back, last year’s event was historic. They say it was overcrowded and I agree with them. There was no social distancing at all,” Joe said.
While we await the announcement about what this means for Sumfest, the event brand owner is more concerned with doing what’s necessary to get through this unprecedented time, and he urges everyone to do the same. “I look at this as a change of consciousness. If we don’t behave properly, I’m frightened to death at what the wrath of God will be,” said Joe. “I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all or anything, because I really don’t know anything.”
Any logical mind would decipher that the possibility of the event coming to fruition this year is zero to none. Though we’ve watched the festival on live stream before, turning such a huge live event into a completely virtual one might be easier said than done. It’s only a matter of time before the fate of Sumfest is confirmed by the Downsound Entertainment team.