Celebration a tribute to Bahamian ancestry

On Tuesday afternoon, Bahama Village Community Coalition Chairman Glenwood Lopez had yet to write his speech for the 2015 Goombay Festival.

He probably will not write anything because speaking about his culture and heritage comes as easy as frying up one of his famous conch fritters.

“We are expecting to have a bigger and better festival than in past years,” Lopez stated, who can reignite his Bahamian accent whenever the moment arises. The highlights for this year’s festival, which marks the beginning of Fantasy Fest, includes an authentic Junkanoo parade running from Emma to Duval Street, between Catherine and Angela streets.

The parade includes masquerade groups, ornamental headdresses and bands who will perform at the corner of Emma and Petronia before heading to the main stage. (See sidebar for complete schedule.)

Raised with his maternal grandmother, Lopez sees the value in preserving the Bahamian culture as the neighborhood loses more and more families to gentrification.

“Back then Bahama Village was 90 percent black,” he said. “Now its only about 30 (percent).“

Aside from the slow erosion of the longtime notable families of Bahama Village, Lopez understands the shifting demographics and yet still fondly recalls creating his own Halloween costumes, “conching” and feasting on the seasonal fruit of the Keys like Spanish limes and sapodillas. In simpler times, when the Navy was the primary industry and prior to the plundering of the environment, he would catch jewfish from the Goldberg Docks (now Mallory Square) or “head” shrimp for sixty cents a bucket at the front street shrimp house (now the Half Shell Raw Bar).

Today, the retired educator runs a conch stand that specializes in conch salad, fritters and fresh fish – all the while working to make sure Key West retains the cultural and historical significance that makes the southernmost city one of the most intriguing in the world.

Friday, Oct. 23

  • 6 p.m.: Opening Ceremonies: MC Peggy Ward Grant & B.J. and presentation to the Mayor & Commissioners, history of Goombay, praise & worship, invocation, blowing of Conch Shell.
  • 7 p.m.: The Bubba System
  • 8 p.m.: Ms. Penny and Mr. Miller
  • 9 p.m.: Damon & Vision
  • 10 p.m.: Hebrew
  • 11 p.m.: Headline artist Robert Albury, a.k.a “Wild Bill”

Saturday, Oct. 24

  • 4 p.m.: Gerald Adam Steel Pan Band & Bahama Village Steel Pan Band
  • 4:30 p.m.: Key West High School Conchettes
  • 5 p.m.: Bahama Village Social Club and Clayton Lopez & Band
  • 6 p.m.: parade entertainment
  • 7:30 p.m.:: Bahama Village Dance Group
  • 8 p.m.: Caribbean Explosion
  • 10 p.m.: 10:45: DJ
  • 10:45 p.m.: D Monny Vision (*opening for Serani)
  • 11 p.m.: Serani


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