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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesYouth Is Served As Ag Fair Kicks Off

Youth Is Served As Ag Fair Kicks Off

The average farmer on St. Croix is 55-years-old, but the men named Livestock Farmer of the Year and Crop Farmer of the year prove that you don’t have to have gray hair to have a green thumb.

The awards were presented to the two young growers Saturday during the opening ceremony of the 41st Annual St. Croix Agriculture and Food Fair, held at the Department of Agriculture’s Fairgrounds. The Ag Fair is the largest food and farming exhibition in the Caribbean.

Grantley Samuel, who began growing vegetables in his family’s plot when he was 7-years-old, and only four years ago quit his job to grow produce on 2 1/2 acres, was named Crop Farmer of the Year.

Similarly, the Livestock Farmer of the Year, Romeo Bergan, began his own operation in 2003, and now raises sheep and goats on 21 acres.

It was appropriate that the host of speakers who took part in the opening ceremony Saturday spoke to this year’s festival theme: "Youth in Agriculture: Growing Our Future." The theme started from the beginning of the fair when the opening prayer was offered by diminutive Kevin Beaupierre, age 5, whose flawlessly delivered prayer was as short as he was.

There was also plenty for visitors of all ages to do, whether listening to the speakers, strolling among the food booths and vendors, looking at the educational exhibits prepared by the schools and the displays by a host of community groups and civic organizations, or just enjoying the animals in the livestock barn.

While much of the opening focused on youth, there were plenty of honors and nods to the older generation.

For this year’s Ag Fair, the fairgrounds were named the "UVI’s 50th and Land Grant Program’s 40th Fairgrounds," in honor of the anniversary of the founding of the University of the Virgin Islands and its designation as a land grant university 10 years later.

The farmer’s market was named the Priscilla "Pat" Antoine Farmers’ Market in honor of the woman who has been a fixture of the farmer’s market and Ag Fair for more than 20 years. She was an original vendor in the first Department of Agriculture farmers’ market.

Also receiving honors were:

• DeMaurice Mann, a longtime member of the Ag Fair board, culture bearer, and professional caterer.

• Annaly Farms and the Lawaetz family, for their work in developing and establishing the Senepol cattle breed, which is now grown around the world. The livestock area was named the Annaly Farms Livestock Pavilion in the family’s honor.

• This year’s food area was named the Corrine Messer Milligan Food Pavilion in honor of the St. Croix native who started her cooking career as a Frederiksted street vendor, and went on to cook at the Juan F. Luis Hospital and several island schools where she got involved in the Future Business Leaders of America. She has twice been honored by the Crucian Christmas Festival for her commitment to preserving local cuisine.

Memorial awards were presented to honor the passing of agricultural figures Henry Carter, Frank "Pete" Petersen, James Peter Skov, Vidorah "Maria" Davids, and Dr. Maxwell Henry.

Speakers included Gov. John deJongh Jr., Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, UVI President David Hall, Senate President Ronald Russell, and Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen.

Activities continue Sunday and Monday with ongoing entertainment and food demonstrations.

Those who attend might want to be aware that on Saturday, at least, the police were enforcing no parking areas and towing cars that had been left on the north shoulder of Queen Mary Highway, which was clearly marked "No Parking."

An earlier version of this story gave the wrong last name for Crop Farmer of the Year Grantley Samuel. The Source regrets the error.

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