The KAABOO festival is the talk of the Cayman Islands, at least in a lot of circles.
The mutli-faceted event, scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, features music, comedy acts, art and cooking demonstrations along with gourmet food.
Organizers say they are planning for capacity crowds of 10,000 people each day.
“There’s never been anything like it here,” said Caymanian Fraser Barrie, 23. “My group of friends all have tickets. Their parents have tickets. Their parents’ friends have tickets. It just seems to be everyone.”
Mr. Barrie has plenty of excited company – people who have been waiting months for the arrival of performers such as Duran Duran, the Chainsmokers, Zedd and Jason Derulo. But there are also those who have not given the festival much thought.
Joseph Jacob, 47, of Prospect, said he cannot afford the price of admission, which started at $150 during pre-sale and is now $400 for a two-day basic pass.
“I’ve heard people talking about it,” the electrician said. “They’re speaking about how they won’t be able to afford it.”
Still, he said, he thinks the event is a good thing.
“If it’s going to help tourism and the economy, I don’t see any harm done,” he said.
Price was a factor in deciding whether or not to go for many people.
Millie Molina, 37, of West Bay, said she is kicking herself for not picking up a ticket early on.
“I’m like, ‘Why didn’t I buy my ticket when it was $200?’” she said. “I never thought it was going to be so amazing. When I hear it come again, I will be the first one [in line].”
Nicki Guy, manager of Books & Books, said she was in a similar situation.
“There’s some bands that I would really like to see,” Ms. Guy said. “But I missed out on the cheap tickets.”
Instead, she’s trying to help those that are going make sure they have what they need. A chalkboard sign outside the bookstore encourages people to come inside to get outfitted for KAABOO. A display table in the entry way has water bottles, picnic blankets, miniature fans that plug into cellphones, temporary tattoo kits and glitter.
Ms. Guy said she drew on her own festival-going experience in choosing the items.
“It’s anything that’s fun and festival-inspired that might come in handy,” she said, adding that the display has been “getting a lot of business.”
“We have lots of people talking about it,” she said of KAABOO. “A lot of my friends are going. They’re very excited about it.” While many people cited the cost of a ticket as the deciding factor in staying away from the festival, Cindy Conway, 37, of South Sound, had a different reason. She’s not ready to leave her 5-month-old daughter in the care of someone else for two days, but her husband and teenage daughter will be going to the event.
A native of Barbados, Ms. Conway compared KAABOO to that island’s well-known jazz festival.
“It’s good to have something like this here,” she said. “It’s quite unique to have so many artists in one spot in Cayman. I thought it was such a good idea.
“I also think it’s a good tourism product,” she added. “I can see people coming here to go to this.”
Allison Rabess, 47, and her husband Damien, 49, came from Toronto, Canada largely to attend the festival. Ms. Rabess said it was mostly her idea.
“When I saw the [artist] list, I said, ‘Let’s book it,’” she said. “I want to see Bryan Adams, as a fellow Canadian, Magic, another Canadian band, Duran Duran, Maxi Priest.”
The Rabesses are also visiting family on the island, but said the festival determined when they would come. Ms. Rabess said she thinks other international visitors will make the same choice in the future.
“I think people will start to look at this place differently,” she said.
Alicia Rabess, Mr. Rabess’s sister-in-law, said she thinks KAABOO could increase the profile of the Cayman Islands.
“I think maybe it will bump it up there on the list,” she said, “depending upon how it goes. You’re never going to know until you’re there.”