Festival Roots

2015 update the Deering family has been working on a transition out of the festivals. I am currently living in Uganda and Wayne has several other projects to tend to. We are very excited to announce that we have found a wonderful group of people that will be joining the festival team this year. Tom Jennings owner of the 505 Group and Czar's 505 where the longest running Midwest live Reggae night take place every first Friday of the month, David Bauman owner of the Midwest largest Caribbean music production company and Ambassador David's Productions LLC and Jim Kramer will be leading the team this coming year. We are blessed to have such good people to fill our shoes!

This year the festival will be taking place August 27th-29th at the Kalamazoo Growlers baseball field. The decision to move the festival was not taken lightly but is one that we feel is important for the longevity of the festival. Our resources are going to be best used at the Kalamazoo Growlers field and the event has the potential to be more successful than it ever has been. We are very excited to be making this transition and working with the Growlers in this endeavor.

The late 1980's found the Kalamazoo music scene booming, and one very popular event was World Beat/Reggae Night at Club Soda.

Founded by booking agent and club manager Paul Toth, Reggae Night quickly made Thursday the most popular night of the week, with fans consistently driving from across Michigan, and even Indiana to witness International superstars including The Itals,  Toots and the Maytals, Eek-A-Mouse, Kanda Bongo Man, Mikey Dread, Inner Circle, Tippa Irie, and many more.  Outstanding regional and local acts joined in to bring the world's finest reggae to Kalamazoo.  

Kalamazoo has a long history of outdoor concerts.  Starting in the 1980's with the "Music on the Mall" concert series and the "Taste of Kalamazoo".  Eventually the City of Kalamazoo decided that the downtown festivals should be thematic.  Once again former Club Soda owner Wayne Deering and booking agent Paul Toth joined forces to produce the first Island Festival in 1996.  

 Paul Toth

Former host and emcee, Paul Toth, enjoying the All Star Tribute to Bob Marley during Island Festival 2001


Since its inception Island Festival has grown in numbers and stature.  The work begins during the frigid Michigan Winter to bring the finest entertainment possible.  Island Festival is now listed in numerous festival directories and draws over 15,000 reggae fans yearly.  Like any good festival we combine family entertainment, great food, beverages, music and most importantly a great vibe!


We invite you to join us for Island Festival this year, but don't forget to bring your dancin' shoes! 

You're gonna dance to JAH music, dance.

We're gonna dance to JAH music, dance.

Forget your troubles and dance.

Forget your sorrow and dance.

Forget your sickness and dance.

Forget your weakness and dance.    

                       -Robert Nesta Marley