April 26, 2006 – Once known as Food Fair, Cultural Fair took on several aspects of its relatively new name Wednesday. High noon found the crowd dancing to the beat of steel drums on both sides of the event, now held in and around Emancipation Garden.
On the west side in front of the post office, members of the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra, in a sea of red t-shirts, danced and "jumped up" in unmistakable joy to the beat of the band, celebrating its 25-year anniversary this year.
On the east side of the festivities near Fort Christian, an older group gathered to do the "Electric Slide" to the sounds of the St. Thomas All-Stars Steel Band. And in the middle, dressed in traditional madras, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull could be seen dancing to the calypso rhythm of Milo's Kings with this year's fair namesake, Evelyn Benjamin Lloyd. The fair was dubbed "Isalyne's Caribbean Corner," as Lloyd is more commonly known.
Despite the heat and the scorching sun, thousands flocked to the town center to enjoy the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of the fair, which drew dozens of vendors selling everything from kallaloo to CDs.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards noted the fair's new location — which had to be changed from Rothschild Francis Market Square three years ago when a truck struck the square's historic bungalow, taking down the roof two weeks before fair — was better. "It was by accident, but it [Emancipation Garden] seems to be a better place for it." He said it seemed, "more organized."
"Whew, it's hot," was heard more than once. Some revelers found relief from the heat with deJongh 2006 fans that were being handed out by deJongh campaign workers.
Though no one has yet officially "announced" their candidacy for governor, both deJongh and Richards have indicated their intentions to do so after Carnival.
Almando "Rocky" Liburd, who is expected to be Kenneth Mapp's running mate, was also seen in the crowd "chatting up" potential supporters for that ticket. Mapp's advertising agency, Austin Advertising, has said he will announce his candidacy Tuesdayon St. Croix.
But politics didn't play a very big role in the mostly family affair, that was crowded and lively and still going strong well into the afternoon.
Most people were prowling the perimeter in search of local delicacies – many of which are only easily found at Carnival time.
Police Commissioner Elton Lewis said at 1:30 p.m. that he hadn't eaten yet. He said he was "looking for fish or maubi or anything local."
He said he was also hoping for "safety and fun" during the Carnival festivities that remain.
He lamented "the unfortunate incident" that occurred opening night of Village, when someone was shot in the leg, but said so far that was the only incident. "It all depends on the people themselves," Lewis said. "They have to behave themselves."
Seen behaving himself on Wednesday was former Attorney General Iver Stridiron. However, he admitted to having been to quelbe the night before.
"My wife said, 'Let's go to the senior citizen tramp,'" he said. "I told her I wasn't a senior citizen." But he went anyway. "And guess what, there were people of all ages there. I had a ball," Stridiron said.
Stridiron also put in a bid for keeping Emancipation Garden the venue for the fair. He said there seemed to be a lot more vendors at the garden. "It seems like participation was going down at Market Square," he said.
For the fourth year in a row, the garden has provided a far more spacious atmosphere where the throngs of people who attend can make their way among the orderly rows of vendors without the literal squeezing that took place in Market Square as the event grew bigger and bigger over the years.
The winners of this year's awards were:
Special Food Contest (salt fish):
Elridge Thomas for the booth and Gail Hughes for the cooking
Arts and Crafts
Winner: Esther Frett
First runner-up: Elma Braithwaite
Winner: Charles Leonard
First runner-up: Crescent Charles
Winner: Gerald Hodge
First runner-up: Ruth Anthony
Cakes and Pastries
Winner: Lucia Henley
First runner-up: Laurel Hewitt Sewer
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