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Caribbean Carnival Comes to Madison this Weekend

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The Caribbean Association of Madison (CAM) will celebrate Carnival in Madison with food, soca music and dancing this Saturday at the Goodman Community Center. 

“For us, members of the diaspora, it makes us familiar with home because it’s kind of hard to travel to the Caribbean and celebrate,” CAM Member Kemardo Henry said. 

This fundraiser will help the group bring more awareness to Caribbean culture in Madison while celebrating traditions with family and friends. People are encouraged to wear their own costumes.

Carnival is a festive season observed before the Christian tradition of Lent. While historians note the colonial origins of the festival, Carnival now represents both freedom and celebration. Festivities often include public celebrations, including parades, street parties, and other forms of entertainment. 

“It’s a time of the year that people like dressing up. Usually, people spend a lot of time making their costumes,” Henry said. 

Henry described the event as “one big party.” Those who attend Carnival often wear masks, face paint, feathers and jewels. Some people spend months ordering and purchasing materials to design their own costume.

“If you just look up a peacock and put it on a person, that’s what a Carnival costume looks like,” Henry said.

He said even the floats in the parade are grand and filled with colors. People often march and dance on the street. While vibing to the music of their country — whether soca, reggae, salsa or calyps — people often dance together.

“It’s positive and very centered around consent so if someone doesn’t want to dance with you, you just dance with someone else,” he said.

Henry said Madisonians will have the opportunity to experience a little bit of Carnival for themselves this weekend. He also said people would be able to purchase Carnival masks and face painting for kids at the event. The group also encourages Caribbeans in Madison to bring their own flags to wave and wear to the themed fundraiser.

“It’s an opportunity for people to see our culture and that we’re a member of Madison’s community,” Henry said. 

Sak Pase? Carnival Dance Fundraiser” will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Goodman Community Center from 7-11:00 p.m. Tickets to the event costs $15.00 for adults, $10.00 for students with an ID, and $5.00 for children 12 years old and under.