April 30, 2003 – Under bright skies, thousands of V.I. Carnival Food Fair fans thronged to a new venue Wednesday to enjoy their old favorites — whelks and kallaloo, plants and crafts, and friends and family.
Because of the collapse of the Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow two weeks ago, Rothschild Francis "Market" Square was ruled out as the site of this year's event — officially dubbed the Carnival Fair instead of the traditional Food Fair. The V.I. Carnival Committee's choice of Emancipation Garden as the substitute site seemed to go over well with those who turned out. Some, in fact, suggested that the change should be made permanent.
"The loss of that market was a blessing in disguise because we have needed to move it from there for a long time," St. Thomas resident Lynn Igwemadu said. She said the Emancipation Garden location was spacious, allowed more vendors to take part and was easier to keep clean.
Food vendor Thomas Boatwright said he liked the park setting, too, because he was seeing more customers lined up for the three varieties of kallaloo offered at Kallaloo Corner.
"We call it the Grand Kallaloo Corner because we're right here by the Grand Hotel," he said.
At a nearby table, Kwame Callwood was ready to enjoy a plate heaped with mutton, macaroni and rice. It was a long-awaited homecoming from New York for him, and he said he was ready to make up for lost time. He pronounced the fair "beautiful," adding, "I haven't seen it for 20 years."
Kenneth Blake, V.I. Carnival Committee chair, said he, too, was getting positive feedback on the venue and promised to keep it in mind when discussing possibilities for future years. "We're going to spread the word that the Carnival Food Fair of 2003 will be one of the best in history," he said.
This year's fair was given the title of "Lucia's Straw Market," in honor of Lucia Penn, who has been displaying her straw craft work at the event for decades and has won several honors for her baskets and other woven straw creations.
"I'm very proud to receive this honor," Penn said Wednesday from her place of honor in the viewing stand between 2003 V.I. Carnival Queen Janelle Sarauw and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull. "I'm getting up in age, but I'm going to continue until Death sends for me," she said.
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