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HARTFORD, Conn. (WFSB) – Hartford’s riverfront feels like the Caribbean.

In addition to those hot temperatures, it’s also the 17th annual Taste of the Caribbean Arts and Jerk Festival.

“It’s hot like Haiti, it’s really, really, hot, but these islands are very hot, good thing we got a breeze,” said Melinda Debeatham, The Taste of the Caribbean Arts & Culture.

Hundreds of people showed up right by the river for the party, which ended just a few hours ago.

“It’s a great feeling, especially seeing all these people on the islands that look like me. It’s cool to see people that look like me,” Danbury resident Rock Lamour said.

For the past 17 years, it has been a mission.

“First of all, our young people, our children, to find out what it’s like and how we grew up, because here in America it’s different from the islands. So we wanted to bring back the culture so they know what we are and what we grew up with. It is also important for us to give our culture to everyone else,” said Melinda.

There were dozens of food vendors to spread that culture, including Parkville Markets’ own Jerk Shack.

“I serve jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk salmon, roasted corn, jerk wings and Jamaican drinks,” said Shawn McDonald of the Parkville Market’s Jerk Shack.

Not only will Jamaica be represented tonight, there will be vendors representing Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico.

“It’s a free event for everyone. It’s not just about the food, it’s about the taste of the islands. So we’re going to feed you, we’re going to entertain you. We’re going to give you everything that tells you what this island is about,” said Melinda Debeatham.

The festival lasts until 9 p.m.

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