In 1966 Toots and the Maytals, (then a popular singing group) created a term, "Bam Bam." This term signifys the feeling of festival. Festival celebrates everything Jamaican. The color and flavor of the island. In 1962 (Jamaica's Independence) this major festival, which was then coordinated by Edward Seaga (who was then the Minister of Development an Welfare), spelled out a long term plan to incorporate festivities as part of Jamaica's way of moving forward from a post Independence era.
However that is the technical side, Jamaica's Festival roots actually took place in 1897, when the Institute of Jamaica planned and event to commemorate Queen Victoria's 60th year on the throne.
In the 1930s, a decade of significant social upheaval and change on the island, Jamaica Welfare Ltd. was established and village competitions that included art, craft, plays, preserves and traditional dance, began. In addition, Mico graduates, exposed to music and art forms, took that influence with them as they began their teaching assignments around the island, contributing to the growth of a national art form. Yet, in spite of claims to be representative of the entire island, these contests remained largely Kingston-based until the 1946 Portland Festival. This week-long event, a spontaneous effort organized by local citizens that included bringing schools and adults together to allow for eliminations at the inter-school and inter-village levels, marked the beginning of a movement. St. Catherine followed suit in 1949, St. Ann in 1951 and Manchester in 1954.
In 1955, the movement evolved to include celebrations that were not only islandwide but year-long. For the first time parish level competitions led up to national competitions with national finals held in Kingston. The popular three-hour long Jamaica Bandwagon with its float parade organised by Eric Coverly was introduced. Co-ordinated by arts stalwart Robert Verity and presented in all parish capitals, the bandwagon took popular entertainment to the people at street corners and in the villages. Bennett helped organise arts celebrations in 1960 and 1962 as part of the Independence Festival, and went on to be awarded the Order of Distinction in 1977 for his outstanding contributions in the field of Jamaican theatre. By the early 1960s, however, no central organisational structure to ensure the repetition, growth and increasing Jamaicanisation of such events was yet in place.
Today, Jamaica's annual Festival still takes place. It has weathered many storms. I think ex Prime Minister Edward Seaga said it best by this statement," festival has in many ways lived up to his dream of "maintaining, preserving and developing our cultural resources, the unique natural, creative talents which belong to our people, having opened the doors for young people around the country in all fields of creativity and given them a means of expression.".