Whenever it comes to yams, the name Trelawny, a parish in Jamaica, begins to ring. This is not only the birth place of triple World Record holder Usain Bolt, but that of Michael Newman, a well-respected farmer.
Newman, also an entertainment promoter, can reel off the names of more than a dozen variety of yams grown in Trelawny.
According to Newman, “there is the Yellow Yam, Negro Yam, Lucea Yam St. Vincent or Renta, the Mozzela Yam and Ta Yam. However, there is the hilarious Pum-Pum Yam, which has some private undertones.”
Newman, who claims Trelawny yams are so sweet that he is used to eat “so so yams,” is gearing up for what could be one of the biggest yam festivals in Jamaica.
The Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny born, who farm a variety of yams, is planning a Fi Wi Nyam Yam Jam Fest, come Easter Monday, 2024.
“The date is April 1st, one which everyone should remember and mark on their calendar. This day and night affair will cater for all ages, from the very young to the very old. And, we are going full hundred to pull into the venue as many tourists as locals.”
This, he claims would provide well- needed employment and foreign exchange for the country. “Tourist will get the opportunity to eat yam in abundance with roasted salt fish; learn, not only about Trelawny yams, but other staples and the culture of its people.”
According to Newman, who has made Trelawny his home, some ten years ago, “what better way to highlight Trelawny than to have a number of booths with diverse displays, including yams as part of many dishes; also a number of drinks using other ground provisions, such as pumpkin, dasheen, coco, Irish potato and sweet potato.
“I have been thinking about such an event ever since a previous yam festival has taken the back seat.
“I made my final decision to have that event in Litchfield.
“The idea started during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the movements of people were restricted. They were the ones who would come out and buy. I decided to make it easier on their part by bringing the foods at their doorsteps.
“I began to get feedback concerning this past yam festival which has been relocated to Hague, Trelawny. This was a day and night event for children and adults..
“I decided to have my Fi Wi Nyam Yam Jam Fest on an Easter Monday with added activities.”
With just about four months to spare, Newman has a dynamic team- his wife Paulette, Courtney Hanson and Paula Gaye- Morgan. In addition, to volunteers who have wide experience in production, and marketing to name a few areas.
“The day’s event will have a variety of rides for children, and contest, ranging from yam eating to yam digging, deejaying, dancing and treasure hunting. In addition, parents who accompany their children will also benefit by winning prizes for Best Dress Donkey, and Young and Old Yam Queen.
The entertainment package will start at about 6:00 p.m with a variety of acts, including comedians, singers and deejays.
Newman will be giving back to one of his former alma mater,Wait- A- Bit All- Age, which has become Wait- A- Bit Primary.
Newman was born in Harvey Town, a small farming district in Trelawny. He also lived in Kingston, and was always interested in business and entertainment.
“I worked for many years as a designer of men’s clothing and was around a number of entertainers, including Derrick Morgan and John Holt. My knowledge increased working alongside Reggae Trails with Suzie Q who went throughout Jamaica unearthing and promoting reggae music.