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Coconut Grove celebrates festivals and its Bahamian culture this weekend

From history tours to Bahamian food, there will be plenty to do in Coconut Grove this weekend.

By RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to The Miami Herald
Coconut Grove will play host to two festivals this weekend — one celebrating Bahamian culture and the other in honor of the village itself.

First up will be Satuday’s Grove Day, presented by the village’s Business Improvement District.

A highlight will be the opening of the new Paragon 13 movieplex in Cocowalk. The BID bought 3,300 movie tickets from the Paragon, and is giving them away to people who sign up for the district’s newsletter at www.coconutgrove.com .

Also as part of Grove Day, Miami Dade College historian Paul George will give tours of the village, with stops at sites like Peacock Inn and Millionaire’s Row. Tours are free and begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Coconut Grove Women’s Club, 2985 S. Bayshore Dr.

A gallery walk starts at 7 p.m. in the Center Grove.

Meanwhile, on Saturday and Sunday, the Grove will throw a street party celebrating its Bahamian heritage and culture.

Grand Avenue will become Nassau Bay Street, where Junkanoo groups will be dancing and beating the drums, while whistling and banging the cowbell as part of the 34th annual Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival.

“We celebrate the people that established Coconut Grove,” said Cornelia Dozier, executive director of the host committee that helped organize the event.

Three musical stages will be set up where the Royal Bahamas Police Band will hit the platform to play native tunes along with other Caribbean-style entertainment, such as Rake and Scrape Legendary Musician Ancient Man.

The annual festival is a colorful celebration of culture named after a kind of goatskin drum, as well as Bahamian music, a blend of African and European musical influences.

The Bahamas have a close tie to the area. In the late 1800s, Bahamian immigrants first settled in Coconut Grove searching for jobs and homes for their families.

“We want to bring back the traditions,” said Dozier.

At the event, revelers will get a feel of the islands by stopping at the Lil Bahamas cultural village and straw market on Grand Avenue. A visiting straw market will feature sculptures, pottery, jewelry, handmade straw bags and a wood carving demonstration. Fine art will also be for sale.

For food lovers, typical platters like fried fish, conch fritters and guava duff will be sold along with the Bahamas’ national beer, Kalik. Chefs will demonstrate how to make authentic dishes.

Famed Olympic track runner Altheus “The Hawk” Finlayson will be signing books at the shops of Mayfair, while international Master artist Antonius Roberts will showcase her work. A live fashion show will also take place featuring clothing by designer Jeff St. John.

The event is an economic boon for the area, said the consul general of the Bahamas, Gladys Johnson-Sands.

“It’s a new engagement of the community coming together with the best of the Bahamas,” Johnson-Sands said. “We are interacting with the business community.”

A Goombay Festival gospel service will be celebrated at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 3515 S. Douglas Rd., at 11 a.m. Sunday.

The 34th annual Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival in Coconut Grove will take place from Douglas Road to McDonald Street on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

For information, go to www.goombayfestivalcoconutgrove.com.

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