‘Jerk’ chicken fest set for Thursday in Codman Square

If Codman Square smells better than usual this Thursday (Aug. 9), that’s because the third annual Codman Square Caribbean Jerk Festival will take place in the yard of Dorchester’s Second Church from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A $10 admission ticket —cash only— grants access to Caribbean food from Taste of Eden, Raphael’s Caribbean Cuisine, Irie, and other local restaurants. Serving sizes will be small with the hope that visitors sample things from each of the five or six vendors, all of whom have storefronts just steps away from the festival itself.

There will be tables and chairs located throughout the church’s yard, providing ample opportunities for visitors to kick back and relax as they listen to Caribbean music provided by Stress Free DJs.

The event will focus on jerk, a style of cooking that originated in Jamaica in the 17th century and involves seasoning meat with a blend of allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers before cooking it over an often-charcoal flame. However, vegetarian options will be available in the form of vegetables and ital, a Jamaican stew.

The event originated via a small business group in Codman Square, said Charles Vlahakis, a small business development specialist at the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC). They wanted to highlight something popular in the neighborhood, and thought Caribbean restaurants would be the perfect fit.

“Initially it was going to be a contest,” said Vlahakis, “and it evolved from that to inviting local restaurants, having some music, fundraising a bit, and drawing people who may not come down to Codman Square to come here.”

With around 100 people in attendance last year despite inclement weather, the festival plans to spend its third year in the more spacious yard of Second Church, as opposed to the Codman Commons Park where it had been held. Vlahakis said that partnering with the “iconic” church, which is located just across the street from CSNDC’s own headquarters, has been great and was proposed last year by the pastor, who said it was “exactly the kind of thing [the church] wanted to support.” Contact Charles Vlahakis at 617-825-4224 with questions.