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Mango Melee and Fruit Festival Will be Held

June 22, 2006 – The 10th Annual Mango Melee and Tropical Fruit Festival will be held from noon to 6:30 p.m., on Sunday, July 2, at St. George Village Botanical Garden. This popular summer event helps develop a greater appreciation for tropical fruits, especially mangoes, how to grow them and their many uses. Mango Melee offers educational workshops as well as fun activities for children and helps raise funds for the programs the garden presents throughout the year.
"This year Mango Melee has been expanded to include the new Visitors' Center as well as the Great Hall," said the garden's Administrative Director Lesley Hoffman. "We will have vendors at some new spots near the bridge by the rum factory ruins to link the two parts of the garden. The demonstrations and workshops will be held in the lovely new pavilion and on the breezy pergola. This summer tropical celebration will give visitors an opportunity to see and appreciate our new building and to shop in the Museum Store."
Some of the highlights of this year's festival include:
Mango Dis, Mango Dat is a food competition that has been building in popularity over the past couple of years. Cruzan Rum, distributed by Premier Wines & Spirits, is again the sponsor of this contest, which is open to all chefs and cooks from around the Virgin Islands. There are four categories in which mangoes must feature prominently:
Appetizers and Non-alcoholic Drinks
Desserts and Baked Goods
Cruzan Flavored Rum Drinks
Entries will be judged on taste, best use of mango, creativity and presentation. Entries will be assigned a number so the judges will not know who submitted them. There will be prizes in all categories.
New this year:
There will be a presentation by Carol Blake-Hodge, an island entrepreneur who has achieved success using tropical fruits in her business, who will show marketing and packaging are just as important as the quality of the products she uses.
Three workshops will be held this year: one on pruning tropical fruit trees (the first 10 people to sign up will receive a custard apple seedling to plant); one on identifying the many varieties of mangoes and the best use of each type (samples of the different mango varieties will be available for tasting); and one on pineapples – which will be the featured fruit in the Great Hall. Errol Chichester, horticulturist at the V.I. Department of Agriculture, collects fruits from around the island for his wonderful display – which is divided into lots for a silent auction at the end of the day.
Garden Tours:
Free tours of the garden will be offered at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
Other Happenings:
An Ice-cream Making Demonstration, a Tropical Seed Identification contest and the Mango Eating Contest will again be offered. Samples of homemade tropical fruit juices will be available. The 4-H program will have a host of fun activities for children throughout the day.
There will be local food and drinks on sale as well as scores of craft vendors.
The Botanical Garden will also have a bar featuring tropical rum drinks. The garden's nursery will have a plant sale too. The day ends with a silent auction on the tropical fruits judged by event chairman Errol Chichester.
Melee is sponsored by the V.I. Department of Tourism, St. George Village Botanical Garden, the V.I. Department of Agriculture, UVI Cooperative Extension Service, UVI Agricultural Experiment Station, Innovative, BioImpact Inc., HOVENSA and Plaza Extra.
For Information, call Lesley Hoffman at 692-2874 or Errol Chichester at 778-0998 ext. 238.

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