Island Festival History
The late 1980's found the Kalamazoo music scene booming, and one very popular events 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 enjoying the All Star Tribute to Bob Marley during Island Festival 2001
Since it's 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 10,000 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