Those were the words of Kermit “Shine” Forbes. It really didn’t matter what time of the year it was. Shine would walk up and down Petronia Street in Bamaha Village and in his manliest of all men’s voices, would say “Goombay’s Coming!” The Goombay Festival marks the beginning of Fantasy Fest, the island city’s 10-day masking and costuming gala famous the world over. I like to think of it as the local’s weekend. Every year on the Friday and Saturday night of Goombay weekend, Petronia Street is transformed into a Caribbean Street Fair. The same time every year, it’s our chance to say hello and catch up with neighbors and friends at during the annual celebration. Local restaurateurs and cooks line Petronia Street to sell delicious treats, some of which were prepared in their own homes. Local churches and organizations are some of the numerous food vendors that provide the festival with delicious cracked conch, conch fritters, conch salad, fried fish and grits, Key Lime Pie, Johnny Bread and other delicacies associated with Key West and our Bahamian neighbors. It’s my favorite of the many festivals that take place on our island. Influenced by the residents pride in their Bahamian culture is what makes this festival special. The traditional Junkanoos parade kicks off the festival and is highlighted by the world renowned Royal Bahamas Police Band, The Key West Island Junkanoos, The local Bahama Village Drill Team, and the Mokojambe Stilt Walkers. Upon hearing the sounds of the Junkanoos, residents rush from their homes and workplaces to follow behind the bands, dancing and parading all through the streets of Key West. “Imagine the sound of a steady booming bass drum, accompanied by the triumphant blast of a dozen horns, highlighted by the toot of a whistle, the clack of a set of cowbells, and the rake and scrape of a wood saw. Your body perspires with sweat as your heart races and pounds with excitement at the anticipation of a grand Junkanoos rush, which is associated with the commencement of GOOMBAY! The sounds of a Junkanoos band will ignite a fire deep in your soul and for native Key West Conchs, it’s the very essence of who they are!” Mia Castillo. So if you have never experienced the sights, sounds, and aroma of Goombay, definitely put this on your bucket list! Share the Love!