For the third year running, a married couple with business savvy and a philanthropic streak is bringing a festival of food, music, and cultural flair back to the Hudson Valley on August 13 from 12–7 p.m.
Crop Over—also known as a Kadooment, or “large party”—originated in the 18th century in Barbados. It was a way for plantation workers to celebrate another successful harvest (they were the world’s leading producer of sugarcane). The festive tradition was soon adopted by other parts of the West Indies including Trinidad, St. Vincent, and Jamaica.
The Saugerties Caribbean Carnival, brainchild of Tamika and Martin Dunkley, is an ode to community and connection via the tradition of Crop Over. New York State has the largest population of the Caribbean diaspora in the United States (with the majority residing in the five boroughs). Martin Dunkley, a Kingston transplant who was raised in the Bronx, felt an obligation to bring Caribbean flair to the Hudson Valley.
The Dunkleys’ undertaking comes as no surprise, as they are pillars in their community. Drawing from their backgrounds in medical care and marketing, they started Seasoned Delicious Foods, a company that brings the exotic flavors of the islands to the masses. Their endeavor then evolved into Seasoned Gives, a nonprofit which aims to provide all of Ulster County with the resources they need to prosper—socially, economically, and educationally. The organization has hosted live and digital events including family-friendly shows, open forums, and fundraisers.
The first Caribbean Carnival received an outpouring of support from the community and local government, including Saugerties Mayor Bill Murphy, who said that working with the Dunkleys during the height of the pandemic was “inspirational, fulfilling, and fun.” The event exceeded expectations with an impressive turnout of over 3,000 attendees. For the Dunkleys, however, the sky is the limit. As they continue to educate the Hudson Valley on the vibrancy of Caribbean culture, they aspire to the level of the Saugerties Garlic Festival, which has seen over 8,000 attendees.
What can you expect at the Caribbean Carnival? A family-friendly day of merriment: games and activities for kids, reggae performers, and an array of authentic West Indian cuisine. There is also an elaborate carnival costume contest that yields a hefty grand prize of $1000. (Note: Pirate costumes do not count.)
Date: August 13, 12–7 p.m.
Location: Cantine Field, Saugerties