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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 2, 2022
HomeNewsArchives3-DAY ANNABERG FOLKLIFE FEST STARTS THURSDAY

3-DAY ANNABERG FOLKLIFE FEST STARTS THURSDAY

Hundreds of students and other visitors from St. John and St. Thomas are expected to see, hear and taste the living heritage of the Virgin Islands at the V.I. National Park's three-day Folklife Festival that gets under way Thursday at the Annaberg ruins.
This is the ninth annual cultural fair put together by National Park Service ranger Denise Georges to commemorate Black History Month. It's sponsored by the NPS, Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park and the V.I. Council on the Arts.
Georges said she arranged the first fair with the help of some of the elderly culture bearers who work part time during tourist season demonstrating folkways at the popular Annaberg historic restoration. She calls her experience "most rewarding."
"I've learned that people are interested and proud of their heritage, and we should continue to do this," she said.
There will be dozens of performances, lectures and demonstrations to choose from, not only by older tradition bearers but also by a younger generation helping to keep their cultural heritage alive.
Among the youngest participants will be the Macislan Bamboula Dancers from the Joseph Gomez Elementary School on St. Thomas. They'll perform on Thursday under the direction of Mary Ann Christopher. New-generation demonstrator Revel Boulon is to display his native seed jewelry on Friday. And the Burning Blazers Steelband from the Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School will play on Saturday.
Artful retelling of African Bru' Nanci stories through speech, song and gesture is not as common at today's festivals as quadrille dancing and steelbands. Cultural contributions from adults will include storytelling by Elaine Jacobs and Elmo D. Roebuck.
Historical preservationist Myron Jackson will lead a discussion of Annaberg's masonry and architecture. Professors Gilbert Sprauve and Gene Emmanuel from the University of the Virgin Islands will provide historical notes, and there will be poetry from Tregenza Roach.
Household traditions to be demonstrated include furniture making, straw weaving, charcoal making and cooking. Patrick Joseph will show how charcoal was made on Thursday. David Dorvial will demonstrate the skills of a joiner using native mahogany wood on Friday. Elizabeth Aubain will exhibit her woven straw creations amd, new to this year's festival, Alston Smith will show visitors how to make a clock.
Ruth Gomez and Golda Hermon will offer tastes of the Virgin Islands from the window of the Annaberg cookhouse. Unlike many local festivals, there are no heaping plates of native cuisine served up here. A subtle tradition demonstrated is food sharing, as slices of fresh-baked dumb bread and shared bits of fried fish cooked on a traditional coal pot are freely passed around.
Afrocentric arts will include Eric Blake Jr. performing a libation ceremony and Edney Freeman exhibiting his sculptures. St. John's drumming group, the Echo People, perennial Folklife Festival participants, are to perform on Saturday.
The healing arts will also be represented. Before there were massage therapists there were settlers like Wendell Nibbs. He and herbalist Elmmira Farrell also will discuss bush medicine, the selection and use of local plants as remedies.
Irvin "Brownie" Brown will be the master of ceremonies. Flutist Ari Ari and Caribbean Sounds with pannist Carl Freeman are to play on Thursday. Godfrey Smalls and his scratch band will play on Friday.
The dance presentations will also include mocko jumbie Vienne Newton and traditional dancers from the Dominican Association on Saturday.
Dollmaking, broom-making, fish-net weaving and candy-making are at the heart of the annual Annaberg festival. Culture bearers demonstrating these skills include winners at the V.I. Carnival's annual Food Fair.
Dollmakers Gwendolyn Harley and Terry White will be showing off their handiwork. Mario Benjamin will be near the restored plantation cookhouse weaving fish nets at the stone wall overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Ivy Mercer will have native candies for those with a sweet tooth.
The festival hours are Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

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