The annual Heritage and Jazz Festival got underway on Friday in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA with a line-up of Belizean artists scheduled to perform over the next few days. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival also known as the Jazz Fest celebrates music and culture and this year, they are highlighting the richness and culture of Belize. According to the Cultural Exchange Pavilion Coordinator, Valerie Guillet, the collection of music which includes punta rock and Paranda as well as a diverse collection of Garifuna, Maya, Mestizo and Creole traditions will be featured. In an article posted on the New Orleans Advocate website, it reads, that the robust lineup showcases groove-inspiring acts from Sweet Pain, a punta rock band led by Chico Ramos and Supa G; the Garifuna Generation of New Orleans; Brad Pattico & The Talla Walla Creole Drummers; and 78-year-old Maya harp master, Florencio Mess, among other musicians. Visual art exhibits, along with artists demonstrating their creative processes, also happen inside the Belize Pavilion. Festgoers can admire the work of muralist Pedro Cruz and David Matus, a carnival costume designer, or watch Marta Chiac weave jippa jappa baskets with materials found in the rainforest. Natividad Obando will create a Day of the Dead altar, dedicated to Belizean musicians. Florencio Mess, and his son, Hilario, will assemble string instruments, using simple carving tools and horsehair. Emmeth Young and Wilford Felix will construct Creole Sambai and Garifuna drums, by using goatskins, Belizean mahogany, coconut tree trunks and bamboo. Just outside of the Belize Pavilion, a group of Garifuna women will make cassava bread, a traditional food of the Garifuna culture. During the lengthy and sometimes arduous process, toxins are extracted from the cassava, which is peeled and grated. The bread is baked on a special pan, over a fire hearth. Curious onlookers can sample the finished product. The food component of the Belize tribute also features a cooking demonstration in the Cajun Cabin, at 3 p.m. April 30. Chefs will prepare a traditional Garifuna dish known as hudut — a hearty soup containing seafood, coconut milk and mashed green plantains. Belize is one of many countries that have been featured over the years at Jazz Fest. The other honorees include Brazil, Haiti, South Africa, Panama and Martinique, a French island in the Caribbean. Guillet also revealed that the artists who have journeyed from Belize to New Orleans for the festival are thrilled to share their craft with a new audience. In fact, they already have received a positive reception from some folks.