Hey, it’s your favorite festival girl! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Festival Season 2020 is finally upon us and starts this weekend with one of my absolute favorite festivals, the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival. Thinking back to 2015, this is where my love for all things festive began. At that time, I volunteered for Tru Tru and had a blast. Seeing all the food choices, the jewelry, the artwork, singing and dancing along to some of the most memorable Bahamian songs was wonderful. With more and more festivals popping up, I think that there has been an increase in Bahamian owned food/drink/ dessert vendors. They are trying to build their clientele and showcase their excellent products and these festivals were designed just for that. However, with so many festivals and as more people become interested in attending, I figured it was time for a festival guide. How else are you gonna know how to navigate these experiences and truly enjoy everything they have to offer?
I always like to arrive no more than 2-3 hours after the start of a festival. I feel like this is the safe spot; all the vendors have already set up and it’s still not super crowded. Any time after that, the lines may be ridiculously long or worse the vendors may already be sold out of some items if not everything. The earlier the better though. Last year, I went to a pop up festival which started at 12 pm. When I arrived at 3 pm the majority of the vendors were sold out. Those who weren’t, had lines that wrapped around and around. Moral of the story, be early.
Money, money, money. There are so many things to buy at festivals. It’s literally all your favorite food trucks, mixologists, jewelry makers, artists and more all in one place at one time. The majority of the vendors don’t have credit card machines. You may also be able to negotiate with the craft vendors on prices, but you have to have some money with you. I usually bring at least $50, that covers festival entry, 2 food items and 2 alcoholic drinks. If I’m interested in shopping, I’ll bring an additional $10-20.
Be Open to Try New Vendors/Foods
We all know the OG festival food vendors like POW, Conch n’ Cone, The Batter Girls, Corn Diggity Dogs and Pop Stop. I love all of them and HAVE to get a pop from Pop Stop every time. However, I do think it’s so important to try new vendors. You won’t know if you love the pineapple duff, the alligator tacos or the tamarind drink if you don’t try it.
Take Time to Explore the Arts and Crafts
I don’t think we truly appreciate the talent of our Bahamian people. Exploring festivals over the years has introduced me to many amazingly skilled Bahamians. I was mind blown when I found out someone was making jewelry out of old tires. Like can you imagine? This year, I plan to spend more time visiting the craft booths. I got a really cute bracelet from Always by Allia Dean at the Summer Pop Festival and I think it’s time I pay her another visit.
Embrace the Bahamian Culture
I don’t think I could accurately express how much I enjoy festivals, but here goes. You know the feeling you get when you see your food coming in a restaurant, when someone else washes your hair and massages your scalp, or when you’re zip lining hundreds of feet off the ground. Excitement, peace and exhilaration all at once. I truly enjoy attending festivals and everything about them. Food, drinks and music are always a good time, but when live artwork, traditional activities (plaiting the maypole) and educational talks come into the mix it’s really a wonderful time.
Tru Tru Bahamian Festival is this weekend! I’ll be attending on Sunday. If you do miss it though, Bahamas Junkanoo Art & Music Festival is February 22nd and 23rd at Botanical Gardens. See you there!