Fifth Annual Fire Hearth Festival making its grand return in Freetown

Organizers of the Fifth Annual Fire Hearth Festival, the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation and the Freetown Heritage Committee have partnered to ensure its return on Monday, May 29, 2023. Making the announcement at a press conference at the site on Friday, May 19 from left are Freetown Heritage Association Public Relations Officer Jayson Cooper; Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson; Association Vice-President Vivian McIntosh; Association President Beula Higgs; Senator James Turner and Nuvolari Chotoosingh, manager of Ministry of Tourism Groups and Events. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

The Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation and the Freetown Heritage Committee are making ready for the return of the Fire Hearth Festival on Monday, May 29, 2023 when all roads will head back to the east.

Organizers say the festival, which is known to have its signature cook-off, is coming back in grand style with a new venue, but with the same flair and community hospitality.

The new home of the festival is located just at the rear of the Freetown Primary School, and festivities are sent to kick off at 11:00am.

Senator James Turner was on hand on Friday, May 19, 2023 for the press conference in Freetown to announce the big event and was impressed with the transformation of the new site by the residents of Freetown.

“What I see unfolding in East Grand Bahama is nothing short of fantastic. Sometime ago as a government we declared that Grand Bahama ought to return to being the entertainment capital of The Bahamas. We are seeing with our very eyes, the unfolding of multiple festivals, this very same thing,” he said.

“This Freetown festival is going to be nothing short of fantastic. We expect to have good food, cooking, good music and we’re expecting to see Grand Bahamian spirit on display in Freetown, Grand Bahama.”

Vivian McIntosh, vice-president of the Freetown Heritage Association, revealed that the residents are excited to have the festival back stronger, better and bigger than before.

“We’re looking forward to the support of everyone to come and join us and celebrate with us,” she said.

With the Fire Hearth Cooking Competition hyped as the main event, she revealed that reigning champion Ralph Roberts will be back to defend his title.

This year’s featured dish is conch and grits. Registration is $100. The competition is open to the public and the grand prize is $400. Contestants can sign up at the site on the day of competition.

Aside from the cooking contest, patrons will also have the opportunity to participate in the watermelon eating competition, the onion peeling competition and bask in a variety of entertainment, including music from the Police Pop Band.

Residents and visitors will also get to feast on Bahamian dishes such as conch and rice, crab and rice, cracked conch, fried chicken wings and fries, conch salad, coconut water and much more.

Nuvolari Chotoosingh, manager of Ministry of Tourism Groups and Events, was also impressed with the work that was carried out on the grounds in preparation for the festival and pointed out that visitors to the island and residents will being converging on the site to take in the sights and share in the festivities, come May 29th.

“We have a number of persons in the past who have always come onboard with us in terms of sponsorship and we also want to ask the corporate community to support this particular event and all the festivals here in East Grand Bahama,” he said.

Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson pointed out that that is the first time the festival will be returning since the passage of Hurricane Dorian four years ago.

“East Grand Bahama is becoming known as the capital for heritage festivals. Each of our settlements [has a] distinct heritage festival and so this is the one for Freetown and I want to commend the organizers, they have done a tremendous job in bringing back this festival,” he said.

Particularly proud with what the men in the community have been able to accomplish in order to prepare the festival site, which overlooks the picturesque blue-green waters, Heritage Committee Public Relations Officer Jayson Cooper said the entire community of Freetown is excited that the festival will be able to cater to the entire family.