Sigmas bring Goombay back to town

The Goombay festival arrived in Tallahassee more than 18 years ago by way of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

After a brief hiatus, the fraternity reintroduced the festival to the Tallahassee community and has been hosting the event for the past four years.

Some call Goombay one of Florida A&M University’s most thrilling and fun-filled events for all ages. Goombay, meaning rhythm, is a festival that dates back to the early days of slavery.

Originating in the Bahamas, this celebration of culture soon spread to neighboring Caribbean countries and eventually came to the U.S. Notable characteristics of this annual event are dancers dressed in vibrantly-colored costumes and musicians dancing through the streets playing songs on steel drums.

“I have been to a Goombay festival in Miami. It was packed with a lot of activities, and the food was really good,” said Trey Ramsey, 21, a fourth-year business administration student from Tallahassee. “I have never been to one at FAMU, but I look forward to seeing how it compares to the one in Miami.”

The Goombay festival will make its way back to Tallahassee beginning at noon tomorrow.  The two-part celebration begins with a daytime festival complete with moon bounces, live performances and a $10 all-you-can-eat buffet.

It culminates with a big party at the Florida fairgrounds.

“It’s a celebration of Caribbean culture, almost like a carnival. It can be compared to Be Out Day,” said Phi Beta Sigma president Xavier Durben, 22, from Miami.

The Sigmas are also using this event to give back to the community.

“All of the proceeds from the daytime festival and the majority of the proceeds from the party will be given to the Boys and Girls’ Club of America and to The March of Dimes,” said Durben, a fifth-year business administration student.

The Goombay festival has garnered a lot of attention from FAMU students.

“Goombay was my first big event in college. It was really nice and very good for the community,” said Jasmin Miller, 21, a fourth-year health care management student from Silver Spring, Md. “I also had a lot of fun at the party.”

Goombay is a favorite among some students.

“Goombay was the first party I went to freshman year,” said Rosalynne Jones, 20, a biology pre-med student from Washington, D.C. “It was by far one of the best parties I have gone to at FAMU. It was packed and the music was good. I had lots of fun.”

Between the performances by local and campus organizations, the buffet and the other activities Goombay has to offer, this day-long festival promises to be an event to remember.