Celebrated Easter Monday, the Trelawny Yam Festival attracts thousands of Jamaicans and visitors each year.
The Trelawny Yam Festival started in 1997 as a way to fundraise to support the local community. Organized by the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency, the festival celebrates yam, an imporant food of the people of South Trelawny, a quiet mountain village in Jamaica.
Although the highlight of the Festival is the celebration of the culture of Trelawny and its main crop, yam, the Festival has many exciting activities and competitions for participants.
The yam feast includes innovative yam productions like yam cakes, buns and other baked items where cooked yam substitute flour. There is also yam pudding, yam punch, and yam wine, which people have described as more effervescent and just as potent as wine. Food stalls have variations of yam everything!
Activities of the day include a Yam By–Product Competition for schools and a culinary competition and demonstration with illustrations of the creative uses of yam by community members and students. They also include music and dance.
Yam is one of Jamaica’s most popular ground provisions. The root vegetable was brought from West Africa in the holds of ships as food for slaves. Yam quickly became a staple food on plantations throughout the Caribbean and can be found in many traditional, local dishes and soups.
There are over 18 different varieties of yam in Jamaica. Most of these varieties are grown in the parish of Trelawny which accounts for 60% of Jamaica’s yam production and 50% its exports. The most popular is the yellow yam. Jamaica’s exports go to West Indian communities in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
Yam festivals are celebrated all throughout the African continent and the Diaspora, including large annual celebrations in Ghana and Nigeria.
In 2004, the Trelawny Yam Festival had a record of 18,000 people in attendance.