The response by Mango Festival organizers to the violent and unruly end to last year's festivities is to pass out fliers asking participants to go home peacefully after the festival ends. What isn't clear is if that edict will be carried out by the festival-goers themselves or by the Broward County sheriff's deputies who sicced attack dogs on people who just wouldn't leave Deerfield Beach soon enough last year.
A little bit more brilliant than the "Please, can't we all just get along?" philosophy of crowd control that resulted in one civilian dog bite and two officer suspensions in 2001 is this year's lineup of entertainers. Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Isley Brothers will headline the show on Saturday night. The five-dollar entry fee ($3 for kids) makes this one of the year's best buys for entertainment. Opening for the legends will be adolescent performer Lil' D, the younger brother of Nu Beginnings' Usher; D was so well-received last year with his blend of jazz, R&B, and pop that he was brought back and given prime time this year. Gospel Sunday features the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Vickie Winans, Gospel Explosions, Perfect Praise, Moses Tyson Jr., and Woody Rock, formerly of Dru Hill.
The festival, now in its 17th year, was started by a group of women partially as a community outreach project but mostly as a way to raise college money for Deerfield Beach high school students. In the early days of the festival, $1000 was divided into four $250 scholarships. The festival now presents ten scholarships of $1000 each to local minority students, focusing on teens with a background in community service.
Music and mangos makes perfect sense for a festival that Deerfield Beach Vice Mayor and Mango Festival Board Member Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed calls "a version of a West Indian carnival with a touch of Southern and American traditions." Unfortunately, after searching up and down the state, the festival committee couldn't come up with more than a handful of mangos. It just isn't a bumper-crop year.
This is only the second year that participants have had to pay an entrance fee, although the increased fees ensure upgraded entertainment. Exactly what security will be provided this year depends upon who you ask. Clarke-Reed says they haven't decided whether to hire private security. Festival Chairperson Andrew Pratt says private security has already been contracted for, but mostly to protect the entertainers from overzealous fans. Even after last year's fiasco, they both agree that the Broward Sheriff's Office will handle crowd control after the festival ends Sunday, with an increased number of officers on duty that night. Clarke-Reed highlighted how last year's event spurred a BSO policy change on how and whether canine units are used in crowds. Our advice: Enjoy the festival, but leave before the very end.