About Us

About Us

We are a 501(c)3 organization that manages all aspects of Carifest, the annual celebration of Caribbean arts and culture in Minnesota. We are a small group of volunteers who in addition to our regular jobs, contribute our time and efforts to raise funds, seek and book performers, secure licenses and manage just about every little detail to put on this annual

History

Twin Cities Carifest began as a grass-roots celebration of the Caribbean cultural heritage in 1994. Now approaching our 21st anniversary, Carifest has grown to provide festival-goers of all ages and backgrounds the ultimate arts fusion experience featuring: colorful Caribbean flair, danceable live calypso and reggae beats, vibrant parade costumes and more. Each element is as diverse as the islands themselves.

Mission and Vision

The mission of Carifest is to strengthen and to educate the greater community at large about Caribbean culture and current issues impacting countries in the Caribbean through the organization of cultural events. We strive to create a unified and culturally rooted Caribbean community within the Twin Cities, while promoting philanthropy among local businesses. Our vision is to bring to light the heritage of our underrepresented community while creating a platform for members to engage and share their culture with other communities. We see ourselves as one of the top leaders in the U.S. for Caribbean Carnival celebrations.

Organizers

Charles Peterson

Executive Director

Charles Peterson hails from Antigua & Barbuda and now lives in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Minnesota. Charles, as a founding member of the Twin Cities Carifest and the new Co-Executive director, believes that culture defines a person. With a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota and several years of experience in the food, dairy and beverage industry, Charles manages an engineering group that services, designs, and builds dairy plants throughout the USA. Charles is also a founding member of the Minnesota Cricket Association, and cricket is considered the glue that binds the West Indies. He has managed and promoted many porting tournaments, entertainment activities, fundraisers and relief efforts to benefit the Caribbean. Charles has always been involved in cultural exchange and continues to be an ambassador for Caribbean culture, and advocates for a united West Indies.

James Byron

Director of Community Outreach

James Byron originally from Trinidad and Tobago, has been living in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 1989. James has a degree in business management and currently owns and operates a retail business. James has been an active supporter for Carifest for 14 years. James is very interested in advancing the culture of Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies as a whole throughout the Midwest.

Donna Rankin

Managing Director

Donna Rankin is a native of Antigua and Barbuda. Arriving in Minnesota after attending college in Trinidad for stage production and dance. Once in Minnesota attended Dental School and also Event Planning. Ms Rankin has been volunteering with Carifest and other non-profits for the past 17 plus years while staging many events and fundraisers. Ms. Rankin has contributed her knowledge to her community in helping to build a better and stronger Caribbean community in MN.

Churaman Ragoonanan

Director of Finance

Churaman Ragoonanan comes from Trinidad & Tobago and is a founding member of the Twin Cities Carifest. Churaman, fondly known as Ragoo, is well recognized in the community as owner and operator of Ragoo Realty and Tax Service, here in the Twin Cities. From Carifest’s inception he has worn many hats within the organization and continues to be an active supporter of Carifest.