Black Gold Jubilee events precede big lakeside bash

BELLE GLADE — Belle Glade’s annual Black Gold Jubilee, set for this Saturday, April 6, is the annual celebration of the Palm Beach County Glades region’s spectacularly fertile soil, which serves as the winter vegetable garden for much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
The Children’s Fishing Contest took place at Torry Island.

According to the festival’s website, blackgoldjubilee.org, the jubilee “is a much-anticipated festival born from the 1976 Bicentennial celebration that was sponsored by the City of Belle Glade in commemoration of our great nation’s 200th birthday. The year following that memorable celebration, a group of citizens organized a similar festival hoping to imitate its success; however, the focus of the celebration would shift to the area’s rich soil, nicknamed ‘Black Gold’ for its ability to produce bountiful harvests year after year.

“In 1978, the first official Black Gold Jubilee kicked off in McDonald Park, next to the Belle Glade Branch Library. Since that time, the jubilee has grown to be the best-attended festival in the area, drawing several thousand residents and visitors from across South Florida.”

Multiple events are happening this week or did previously, leading up to the day’s festivities: Little Miss Black Gold Pageant, Children’s Fishing Contest and the Harvest Queen Pageant among them. The morning of the jubilee, a 5K Walk/Run and a 10K Run will be staged on Torry Island, followed by the Main Street Parade.

After the parade, everyone heads out to Torry Island for a full day of fun, food and entertainment. The variety of food ranges from Greek to Cajun, and from down-home barbecue to soul food. The child-friendly atmosphere brings families out for a day of free games and kid’s rides while the adults enjoy music under a covered stage as well as a wide variety of vendor’s wares. In the evening, activities move to the amphitheater stage for an evening of musical entertainment followed by the grand finale — a spectacular fireworks display over the lake.

This unique festival shows off Belle Glade’s agricultural roots and organic “black gold” soil. Food, entertainment, fireworks, a car show, a volleyball tournament, rides and more.

The kids’ fishing tournament took place all morning Sunday, March 31, with children ages 1-15 eligible for prizes in each division.

The lineup of events for Saturday starts with these top two; the rest are open all afternoon or taking place all day from noon to 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted:

• The 5K Walk/Run and 10K Run kick off the day at 7 a.m.

• The Parade On Main Street steps off at 10 a.m.

• Arts and crafts booths.

• Art and photography exhibits: Art Show by the Glades Art Group.

• Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce’s Green Market.

• Classic Car Show.

• Corn Hole Tournament, sponsored by the Bank of Belle Glade, with a first-place cash prize and trophies.

• Corn & Sweets Cook-Off.

• Free children’s rides and games.

• Glades-style food booths, with other vendors’ booths as well.

• Golf Tournament, teeing off at 7:45 p.m., the nighttime tourney involves four-person teams and Nine Hole Scramble format.

• Gospel Sing, featuring representation from many of the area’s churches.

• Harvest Queen and Junior Harvest Queen Pageants, sponsored by the Belle Glade Lions Club and Palm Beach State College, open to girls ages 13-21 who live in or attend school in the tri-city area of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay.

• Little Miss & “Tween” Black Gold Pageant, featuring younger pageant hopefuls ranging in age from 3 to 12.

• Photography & Selfie Contest, plus exhibit of selfie pictures featuring life, scenery and wildlife around Lake Okeechobee.

• Volleyball Tournament.

A pair of free concerts at the Lakeside Amphitheater on Torry Island will close out the day’s activities. At 5:30 p.m., Night Moves (The Ultimate Bob Seger Tribute Band) takes the stage, and at 7:30 p.m., Kentucky-born country music crooner John Michael Montgomery will follow.

There will be a spectacular fireworks show at dusk.

For more information, call the Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce at 561-996-2745.

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