By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

        (Los Angeles, Ca.) Los Angeles Cultural Festival teamed up with the City of Los Angeles to present an extravagant festival, an explosion of cultural fusion celebrating the rich and diverse, colorful culture of the Caribbean.

        The inaugural Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Festival was held on Sunday, June 26, 2022, from 12:00pm-8:00pm. The event was held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw, South Upper Deck, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd, Los Angeles, CA. 90008. 

        It should be noted that the South upper Deck of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw has become part of the established entertainment core of Leimert Park Village. Several signature events have taken place in the past six months, and several additional events are scheduled for the remainder of the year.

        Several thousand people from various Caribbean countries, and people who love Caribbean culture came together to celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month in the heart of and beautiful City of Los Angeles. Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kits and Trinidad and Tobago were represented at the celebration. 

        DJ Easy B welcomed the crowd unto the gathering with an eclectic mix of calypso, reggae and soca tracks. Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter and Raquel Marshall was the perfect pair to serve as host of the inaugural celebration.

        New Caribbean got the show underway with a set of cover tunes “Feeling Hot Hot Hot,” by The Merrymen “One Love,” by Bob Marley, with guest vocalist Emmanuel Boyd on “Forbidden Love,” by Madonna and “Now That We Have Found Love,” written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.

        Soca Sisters, Soca Twins, Soconomics led the crowd in a nice workout, dance routines occupied with a contagious soundtrack of Soca, while dressed in beautiful, colorful costumes.

        Jyrus Melody, singer, songwriter and producer, influenced by the island sounds of his native Trinidad and Tobago, and the sounds of soca, reggae, hip hop and R&B, performed his latest, an inspiring, upbeat “I’m Smiling.”

        The show continued with BC Royal, a talented group of musicians and singers from Belize. They entertained the crowd with “Night Nurse,” “Love You Baby,” and “Sweet Memories” just to name a few.

        Guadalupe and Sambalicious came onstage for a captivating performance celebrating the culture of Brazil. 

        Singer, Songwriter, Lil June, representing Garifuna culture of Belize and Honduras, energized the crowd with “Hot,” “Do You Wanna Dance,” and “OMG.”

        DJ International Stephen cranked up the festivities while on deck of the ones and twos with an explosive soundtrack of punta, reggae and soca to the delight of the dancers in the audience.

        The crowd and I were in awe, thrilled and captivated by the display and showcase of elaborate costumes by Marvin Bendana of Studio Creativo. Visit his website to view some of his amazing costumes and evening gowns etc. https://www.studiocreativomarvinbendana.com

Hollywood Carnival Dancers featuring Jonia Queen entertained the crowd by highlighting the beautiful cultural dances of Brazil.

        Jonia Queen led a colorful and vibrant procession of costumed participants around the perimeter of the festival to the delight of the everyone in attendance.

        Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, (CD-8), was in attendance to present awards to Dr. Harold Ganga, Founder, Hollywood Carnival and Los Angeles Cultural Festival, G. Anthony Joseph, Actor, Movie Producer and Writer, and Caribbean Headliners, Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons.

        Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons thoroughly entertained the crowd with a melody of tunes from their respective catalogs of hits.

        Representatives from Barbados, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago Tourist and Travel Bureau were on site to share information and answer questions.

        Attendees were able to browse and shop at booth featuring an array of clothing’s, apparel, memorabilia from the Caribbean. From d Yawd quenched thirst with Natural juices from Belize. House of BLK consisted of artisanal sage and incense blends. Caricon a celebration of Caribbean literature.

        One invariably had to work up an appetite. Island cuisine served up by Twin Style, authentic foods from Trinidad and Tobago, On Pointtt-jerk chicken, Island to Table Patty Hut-Jamaica, Nays Taco, and Saraba-Belizean Garifuna Cuisine.

        The Hollywood Carnival/Los Angeles Cultural Festival has found a new home in Leimert Park Village. In the future, I can see a return to a spectacular parade on the streets leading to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw.