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KINGSTON — Preparations are in high gear for the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC)-organised Independence festival activities, which kick off on Friday night (July 29) with the Festival Song finals at the National Arena in Kingston.

The show, which gets underway at 8:00 p.m., will see the 10 finalists competing for the top prize of one million dollars courtesy of CLARO and a brand new Nissan Tida from Fidelity Motors, plus other prizes.

Speaking at the JIS Think Tank on Wednesday, July 27, at the agency's head office in Kingston, Acting Executive Director of the JCDC, Delroy Gordon, said preparations are well advanced for this event and others.

"We are prepared as we need to be today for the first event. Quite a number of activities are going on in various communities, particularly in the inner-city where persons are now involved in creating various costumes for the Grand Gala," he said.

Mr. Gordon said that plans for the coronation of the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen are progressing smoothly. The show will take place on Saturday, July 30 at the National Arena starting at 8:00 p.m. under the theme: 'Jamaican Women Shaping Our Culture.'

He informed that the 13 contestants are now in Kingston and have been attending various events, including courtesy calls on the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Mayor.

On Sunday, July 31, the Jamaica Gospel Song competition will be held at the National Arena starting at 7:00 p.m. Top prize is $500,000 courtesy of Grace Tropical Rhythms.

Meanwhile, participants in the World Reggae Dance Championship have been rehearsing at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in preparation for the show on Monday, August 1 at the National Arena commencing at 8:00 p.m.

"This event is one of the fastest growing events of the JCDC in terms of popularity. Last year and the year before, we had competitors coming from as far as Japan and this year promises to be just as exciting," Mr. Gordon said.

The popular Mello Go Roun' featuring the best in the festival of the performing arts, will take place on Thursday, August 4 at the National Arena beginning at 8:00 p.m.

Activities culminate on Saturday, August 6 with the colour and spectacle of the Independence Grand Gala at the National Arena, starting at 5:00 p.m.

In addition to the major events being organised by the JCDC, Mr. Gordon said that the Commission will be collaborating with a number of organisations and independent promoters in the staging of other activities.

Among these are the Ocho Rios Seafood Festival, Turtle River, St. Ann and the Camfest (Cambridge Festival) in Cambridge, St. James on Independence Day, August 6; and the Independence Fair and Stage Show at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, St. James on Monday, August 7.

The Acting Executive Director thanked the many sponsors as well as volunteers for their support. "We are fully aware that in spite of our collective efforts, our accomplishments would not have been realised without the generous contributions of our faithful and dedicated sponsors, volunteers, participants and other friends of the cultural movement, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude," Mr. Gordon added.

Major sponsors are CLARO, CHASE Fund, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), GraceKennedy, Fidelity Motors, Christar Villas Hotel, Excelsior, Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League, Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), Independence Park Limited, TVJ, CVM, JIS, Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) and Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC).

By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS PRO

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