3rd Annual Reggae Festival

Third Annual Bayfront Reggae Festival

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

This Saturday from 11am to 10 pm the waves of Lake Superior will be carrying with them the sounds of Reggae from Bayfront Park .

Eight groups will be performing with a portion of the proceeds going to help the Jamaica Minnesota Organization. Janna Dreher, the chief manager of the Bayfront Reggae Festival, spoke about the festival and its roots.

“Late in 2005, Mary Cane and I thought it would be fun to have a reggae festival in beautiful Duluth ,” Dreher said. “We both love reggae and I play with my band Uprising… We feel very connected to the reggae community in Minnesota .”

Putting on a large event in the Northland is difficult, but becoming successful and making it become a tradition takes something special. Dreher has accomplished that with this festival.

“We review customer feedback from our survey we put out,” Dreher said. “We also work with our sponsors to promote the event and our volunteers to make it fun and exciting. People seem to love it! Reggae has a powerful, positive message; while at the same time is uplifting and naturally makes you want to groove to the music. We find that it is filling a need for a culturally diverse event in the area. I have been on the boards for the Two Harbors Kayak Festival and previously for the Two Harbors Folk Festival for many years and gained experience in this way. Our goals in the future are to have a weekend event and to continue to grow our sponsors' support to make this a great event. There have been wonderful people involved in the event and the performers seem to love it!”

Headliner Tony Rebel has Billboard hits and gold albums in his lengthy resume. Rebel, like others performing, is also from the birthplace of reggae, Jamaica .

Another famous name in reggae is Tinga Stewart. A veteran of the business, Stewart has recorded 12 albums since his career began in 1971. There are other performers, but one nice aspect is that the attendees of this festival have a say in who performs.

“Performers are selected based on customer feedback, availability, and what the budget can accommodate,” Dreher said. “It is always fun to expose music to new listeners and to learn about various artists. It seems in Minnesota , there are a few well known names and we are attempting to give our customers a chance to learn about other talents. Reggae has been evolving and dancehall has gained a lot in popularity. There is a trend back to conscious reggae which is what we try to promote at our event.”

So what is the most exciting new addition to the festival this year?

“We are adding some contests and a raffle for the Jamaica Minnesota Organization to raise money for school supplies for students in Jamaica ,” Dreher said. “We also have a shuttle available from Minneapolis which can be arranged by visiting our website at www.bayfrontreggae.com.”