Jamaica Harvest Festival Returns This Weekend

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Photos from last year’s festival, below include Deirdre Josephs (aka “Miss Shut-em Down”), a player in the Approaching Storm Marching Band.

BY TRONE DOWD

The annual Jamaica Harvest is set to return to the neighborhood this Saturday. Traditionally held on 160th Street and Jamaica Avenue, the event is organized by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation as a way to bring Southeast Queens residents together for a day of family fun.

Helamam Teoc and his sister Allison proudly display their inflatables produced by the twisting artistry of the Balloon Mom.

Helamam Teoc and his sister Allison proudly display their inflatables produced by the twisting artistry of the Balloon Mom.

This year, the festival celebrates its 17th anniversary. Mary Reda, who is the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation’s director of real estate, told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that the festival is her favorite annual event that the organization puts together. Reda said that she has attended all 16 festivals and had no intention of missing this year’s event.

“It’s always a wonderful time of year,” she said. “The weather is in our favor, which is perfect. It’s a time where the corporation can relate and connect to the community.”

A wide variety of family-friendly activities will be available for those attending, including face painting, scarecrow making, pumpkin decorating, live musical entertainment from local band Prest4Time, healthy cooking demonstrations and more. Food will also be provided, all of which is locally grown. There will also be a pie baking contest, giving the borough’s best bakers a chance to earn some bragging rights.

(Right): Member of the Federation of Black Cowboys (from left to right) Joshua Huff, R.W. “Curley” Hall and Daequon Watson with their trusty steeds.

(Right): Member of the Federation of Black Cowboys (from left to right) Joshua Huff, R.W. “Curley” Hall and Daequon Watson with their trusty steeds.

“Everything is of no cost to the participants, which is very nice,” Reda said.

As part of the festivities, Reda said that the Transitional Health Services of New York will be stationed at the festival to take people’s blood pressure and discuss preventive physical maintenance with people to raise awareness of dieting and eating well.

“We want people to eat healthy and to know how important that is,” Reda said. “Small changes can lead to a very healthy lifestyle.”

She joked that all of the food discussion will be centered on this idea, with the exception of the pie baking contest.
“I don’t know how healthy that is,” she laughed.

Looking back on 17 years of the festival, Reda said that she is always thrilled to see how much it has grown over the years.

They were close, but no cigar. Guessing the weight of that gourd: Mandingo Onyango and Kaeisha O’Neal  The Answer? 142 pounds

They were close, but no cigar. Guessing the weight of that gourd: Mandingo Onyango and Kaeisha O’Neal
The Answer? 142 pounds

“The first year, we had maybe 1,000 patrons,” she said. “Now we have 2,500 easily. It’s more than doubled.”

The event has made a splash outside of Southeast Queens and Reda noted that residents from Ozone Park, Forest Hills, Far Rockaway and other neighborhoods typically attend the festivities. She encouraged everyone, especially parents, to bring youngsters to the festival.

“Youths are the future of the country,” she said. “And to see the kids and see them openly welcomed into the community—participating in the events and knowing that this is their home—is wonderful.”

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