Inaugural TrioFest Draws Hundreds of People to Frederick for Caribbean Food and Music | New

Nicole Hegins circled in a merry circle at Frederick Fairgrounds on Saturday, snapping her fingers as reggae music echoed through the air.

“I’m just going to enjoy the blessings of this day,” she said happily.

Hegins and over a thousand others flocked to Frederick on Saturday for the first-ever TrioFest, a festival celebrating Caribbean food and music. For Hegins, the day was very special – she celebrated the recent birth of her first grandchild, a baby girl.

She came to TrioFest for the music and the camaraderie, she said. “It’s great, because everyone, I think, really needed to go out and relax.”

This is what event organizers Vladimir Trench and Phil Wilson hoped for.

Both men grew up in Jamaica. Festivals featuring live music, wine, and plenty of jerk and curry entrees bring Trench to his childhood on the island, he said.

“People are coming together – it’s gold,” Trench said.

The name of the festival is a reference to the three main components that Trench and Wilson wanted to highlight: wine, jerk and curry.

TrioFest attendees had access to wine tastings and food vendors, most of which featured traditional Caribbean cuisine like jerk chicken, curries, oxtails, rice, and pasta dishes. Vendors with other products – from bath soaps to picture books – had also set up stalls, while also putting on a lively reggae concert on a large stage.

People carried pop-up tents and folding chairs miles away to settle in the grass and enjoy the event, which started at noon and lasted until 8 p.m.

Kara McMillan came to sell her handcrafted bath and body products. Her 17-month-old daughter, Maia, ran laughing across the field while her mother watched from behind the table.

McMillan said she was surprised at the strength of the crowd.

“For the first one, it’s a pretty big turnout,” she said.

Trench hopes to make TrioFest an annual event in Frederick, he said. He had been working hard to plan the Fest of Spring – another Caribbean festival slated for May 2020 – when the pandemic struck.

It was then that he and Wilson – who came up with the idea for TrioFest three years ago and were looking for a venue – started working together. The fairgrounds offered the vast expanse of outdoor space they were looking for.

The couple had arranged all-inclusive bus trips to the festival, departing from cities as far away as Philadelphia and Richmond. But when the delta variant of the coronavirus began to develop, many people became nervous, Trench said, and bus rides collapsed.

Still, crowds flocked to the fairground all afternoon.

While a security guard estimated 3,000 people would stop by the festival throughout the day, Trench and Williams said they hoped for a much larger turnout next year and a bigger one the year next. He is particularly excited about the potential for appreciation of authentic Caribbean cuisine in the region.

“Not all great ideas work the first time,” Trench said. “Look at the plane, look at the rocket.”

Trench moved to Frederick in 2018 from Montgomery County.

“So now this is my home,” he said. “And I want to do something, I want to make a mark. I want to bring something to the county.

Travis Francis traveled from Baltimore County for the festival, carrying a tent for shade and a chair to sit on while he enjoyed the food. He had never visited the fairground before, but soon after arriving he said he liked what he saw.

“I would come back,” said Francis.

Michael M. Tomlin

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