VIDEO: Surrey’s first Afro Caribbean Summerfest a success in representation, cultural appreciation

The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. Musical stylings of the Caribbean band, The Sweet Pan Steel Band was enjoyed by many on Sunday afternoon. (Sobia Moman photo)The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. Musical stylings of the Caribbean band, The Sweet Pan Steel Band was enjoyed by many on Sunday afternoon. (Sobia Moman photo)
The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. (Sobia Moman photo)The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. (Sobia Moman photo)
Creator of the two-day summer festival is Oliver Baley, hailing from Jamaica, now a Surrey resident since 2014. (Sobia Moman photo)Creator of the two-day summer festival is Oliver Baley, hailing from Jamaica, now a Surrey resident since 2014. (Sobia Moman photo)
The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. (Sobia Moman photo)The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. (Sobia Moman photo)
The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. (Sobia Moman photo)The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey kicked off its inaugural celebration on Saturday, August 13 for a two-day event. (Sobia Moman photo)

After seeing a lack of representation of his Caribbean roots in Surrey, Oliver Baley created the city’s first Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest for everyone to appreciate and take part in the cultural fun.

The all-ages festival began on Saturday (Aug. 13) at Surrey Civic Plaza and will conclude tonight at about 10 p.m. Last night saw hundreds come out for the inaugural event and even more are expected for the jam-packed event tonight.

“It’s a dream come true. I’m glad that a lot of people appreciate it too,” Baley told Peace Arch News.

Cultural foods, clothing, live music and bouncy castles are all being enjoyed by City residents thanks to Baley’s goal he set soon after moving to Surrey in 2014.

Originally from Jamaica, Baley describes the Summerfest as his “childhood vision” come to life. The planning for the event is rooted in his musical background as a drummer in a reggae band.

The Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest of Surrey was supposed to take-off sooner, but has been on-hold due to health measures during the pandemic, until now.

What really pushed Baley to continue planning the event is his goal to make a difference himself, rather than wait for someone else to take the torch.

“There are some people who try, but to me, trying is not good enough,” he said.

Although Surrey is home to the largest Black population in the province, Baley finds that representation is still severely lacking in B.C.

“For my country and other countries in the Caribbean, the representation here is pretty low so I just decided that somebody needs to set the bar a little bit so I came up with this idea (to) change the culture, the representation to a higher level,” he said.

Hopes for the first-time event are high, as Baley envisions the festival to “go bigger than I can expect.”

In the coming years, he wants to see Caribbean festivals and parties take to the waterfront and become a true Caribbean celebration.

For now, Baley is networking with other festival promoters throughout the country. Last week, Ottawa held a Afro Caribbean festival and next week one will be enjoyed in Edmonton. This is important for Baley and others like him to “work together because it’s not a competition, it’s a mission.”

While the well-loved festival is coming to a close, Surrey residents can expect it to return next year, possibly at a higher scale.

READ MORE: Play time: Surrey theatre companies line up comedies, musicals, monologues this fall/winter


@SobiaMoman
sobia.moman@peacearchnews.com

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